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European Championships, Berlin Day 2 Finals

Aug 19, 2014  - James Parrack

Europeans day 2 finals

 The British were rather Great on the day 2 finals, taking 3 gold, 2 silver and a bronze to add to the two bronzes won on the first day.

Commonwealth champions Chris Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty and Fran Halsall all delivered on a night that will have given a huge boost to the team.

Walker-Hebborn led the charge with a dominant win in the 100m back.  Before the race, the versatile Jeremy Stravius (FRA), world champion in 2011 and who anchored the French 4x100m free relay to gold on day 1, had claimed the experience and that the Briton had it all to prove. Well, he found out the hard way that Walker Hebborn is no walkover, is calm under pressure and consistent with his ability to swim 53.3 while surrounded by the best in the world.  He did it against the Aussies in Glasgow and has seen off the best in Europe tonight. 

Success continued in the men’s 100m breaststroke as Britain took gold and silver.  Adam Peaty was a little shy of his superb semi final swim but good enough in a tense final to bring his traditional finishing surge to the final and extend away from team mate Ross Murdoch (bring on the 200m breast) and a well judged swim from Giedrius Titenis (LTU).  Daniel Gyurta lurked for 75m but lacked the strength or raw early speed to figure among the medals.

So to the mixed relay and with Walker-Hebborn opening with a 53.68, and Peaty’s 59.30, both just 10 minutes or so after their individual wins, Gemma Lowe and Halsall brought home a third gold.  The Netherlands were second, with a storming finish from Femke Heemskerk in 52.27, as Russia held off the fast finishing Germany to deny the hosts the bronze.

Halsall had already won bronze in the 50m fly behind the predicted finish of Sjoestroem and Ottesen and it was Lowe who was the only one on the podium with only one medal on the night. 

Sjoestroem had also swam a difficult double, doing enough to finish in second in her semi final of the 100m free in as an economical 54.31 as you will see, starting her recovery immediately with some vertical dolphin kicking and some sculling, before scurrying back up the other end to win the 50 fly in 24.98.  Halsall finished strongly to finish within 0.05 of silver, won by Ottesen in 25.34.

The men’s 50m fly opened the night with a tie for both gold and bronze.  Flo Manaudou and Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) both had a reaction of 0.62 and both finished on 23.00; while Andriy Govorov (UKR) and Ben Proud (GBR) both had a reaction of 0.60 and both stopped the clock in 23.21.  Govorov was getting slower from heat to final and better understands the effect of a little pressure.  The final was tense and the winners, both finishing on half a stroke, did well to have enough over the field for golds.  World record holder Rafa Munoz (ESP), was hoping for a third title in a row, but finished 0.03 behind the medals.

Britain continued its medal run with silver for Lizzie Simmonds in the 200m backstroke.  26 year old Spaniard Duane Da Rocha has twice won bronze in this event and took advantage of a wide open race to strike gold and record the best win of her career in 2:09.37.  The time won’t set the world alight, but her joy in winning set the velodrome alight and it won’t surprise me if she is still smiling when we return tomorrow morning.  Bronze was won by perhaps the future of European backstroke, as 15 year old Daria Ustinova, the European Junior champion from last month and world junior record holder swam to third place from lane 1.

The race of tomorrow night will be the 100m free with Sjoestroem and Heemskerk the favourites for gold, in front of Michelle Coleman (SWE) and Pernille Blume (DEN) for bronze. Katinka Hosszu is in the mix in 5th fastest.

The other semi finals were all somewhat predictable:  Rikke Moeller Pedersen leads the 100m breaststroke by a second, Laszlo Cseh leads the 200IM with something still in the tank for tomorrow, and world record holder Paul Biedermann (GER) heads up the 200m freestyle.  Agnel is, by his own admission ‘knackered’ and is in the final in 7th place.  The Frenchman swam strongly to 150m but couldn’t finish.  He has been trained very hard by Bob Bowman in Baltimore, hasn’t reacted well to the repeated trips to altitude and arrived in Berlin exhausted.

God save the Queen.

James Parrack is the Eurosport swimming commentator and co-founder of the BEST Swim Centre, Mallorca.