Russia shines in artistic swimming, Hungarian girls triumph in U15
Last week saw two more great editions of LEN’s junior European Championships: the best young artistic swimmers competed in Malta while the women’s U15 water polo Europeans were held in Szentes (HUN). Russia topped the medal charts in artistic swimming, as expected, while Hungary managed to clinch the title on home soil.
Artistic swimming: Russia on top, Soldatenkova (UKR) with 8 medals Just like at senior level, the Russians swept all titles in the events they entered – their flawless performances ended in 7 golds in as many finals. They came first in both solo events (Daria Kirsanova might become their future queen, she doubled down the free and technical titles), in duet and in team twice alike, and in free combination. As usual, Ukraine was the swiftest among their challengers, they collected eight medals, grabbing the title in the highlight routine and finishing runnerup in seven competitions. Their soloist Anastasia Soldatenkova was part of all medal-winning performances so she became the most decorated athlete of the meet with a gold and seven silver medals. Spain did well too, their talented mixed duets were crowned champions in the free and technical finals, while the female duets and teams claimed bronze medals in succession.
Medal table RUS 7 0 0, ESP 2 1 5, UKR 1 7 0, ITA 0 2 0, FRA 0 0 2, BLR 0 0 2, GRE 0 0 1.
Water polo: gold for Hungary after 23 years
Though Hungary is considered a superpower in water polo, it’s still a bit surprising fact that by winning the women’s U15 European Water Polo Championships in Szentes, the Magyars ended a 23 year-long wait since their last gold medal in female age-group majors dates back to 1998 (they won the U19 then).
From the start, the hosts enjoyed a series of fine matches, dominating in each and earning multi-goals wins in a row, and Spain did the same in the other group. In the quarter-finals Greece edged out Italy 10-8 in the tightest match but they fell to Hungary once more in the semis (5-11) after the group-stage. In the other SF Russia downed Spain 11-8 to face Hungary in the final.
Spain grabbed the bronze as a consolation by beating Greece 9-6. The final brought a fierce battle – Hungary sank Russia in the prelims 15-8 but this time it was a totally different story. The Russians were ahead for most of the time, led 5-3 towards the end of the third and seemed to keep the game under control. However, in 96 seconds the host turned the match upside down by netting three from back-to-back possessions and was 5-6 up before the last break.
The last period offered a tremendous fight from these 14-15 years old young ladies. Hungary added one more 3:12 from time for 5-7, Russia pulled one back with 2:04 remaining but couldn’t save the match a to shootout so the Magyars could celebrate the title. First, they did that in the empty pool (the event was held in a bubble), then, after the ceremony, in front of the building with their families who followed the match on a big screen under the trees outside.
Final standings, women’s U15 Europeans 1. Hungary, 2. Russia, 3. Spain, 4. Greece, 5. Italy, 6. Croatia, 7. Netherlands, 8. Israel, 9. Serbia