More doubles, Sjostrom, Kolesnikov, Toussaint, Kirpichnikova keep golden pace
The specialists carried on their winning streak here in Kazan, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom completed the 50-100m double in the women’s free, Anastasia Kirpichnikova achieved it on the ‘high end’ in the 800-1500m (though cried after because of the narrowly missed WR). Fellow Russian Kliment Kolesnikov did the 50-100m in the men’s backstroke while the Netherlands’ Kira Toussaint added the 50m title to her gold from the 200m. Evgeniia Chikunova won the 200m breast with a new junior WR, Greece’s Andreia Vazaios retained his 200m IM title – Alberto Razzetti came third in that event, then an hour later the Italian upset Olympic champion Kristof Milak of Hungary in the 200m fly.
A brilliant battle opened the session as Andreas Vazaios retained his 200m IM. The Greek’s race plan worked really well, his powerful breaststroke propelled him to the leading position by the last turn and he never looked back. His Italian chasers didn’t have a realistic chance to catch him but Thomas Ceccon and Alberto Razzetti both managed to pass Hungary’s Hubert Kos who led till the halfway mark and set a new junior European record (1:52.87) but missed the podium by 0.12sec.
Sarah Sjostrom was back to commanding mood as she stormed through the pool in the 100m free to secure the 50-100m sprint double here. Her first 50m was unmatchable for the others, though Katarzyna Wasick gained back something in the homecoming (0.14sec) but the Swede was still 0.32sec faster and the Polish had to settle for the silver once more. Interestingly, while Sjostrom ruled this distance in the long pool (won four straight titles between 2012 and 2018), this is only her second triumph after 2015.
Kliment Kolesnikov soon copied the feat in the men’s back by adding the 100m title to his 50m victory. It was a clean job from the Russian rocket, he could swim a low 49sec for the third time here to keep Romania’s Robert-Andrei Glinta in bay. This was Kolesnikov’s third win in a row in this event and his second double after Glasgow 2019 (in 2017 he missed the 50m title by 0.02sec). Greece grabbed another medal as Apostolos Christou out-touched the other Russian Pavel Samusenko for the bronze by 0.05sec – the feat is even more remarkable as Samusenko was the one who ousted the hosts’ double Olympic champion Evgeny Rylov in the heats.
Russia rolled on, the only question the women’s 200m breast final had to answer was whether the hosts could achieve their first 1-2 in Kazan. The answer was a sounding yes, not surprisingly, since Evgeniia Chikunova and Maria Temnikova were the only qualifiers with sub 2:20 efforts. Chikunova, silver medallist in the 100m and turning 17 in just twelve days, was a class act in the final. She smashed the junior world record (2:16.88) to earn her first-ever senior gold medal; and seeing how talented she is, it’s definitely not the last one.
Soon the ladies from Holland produced a 1-3, in the 50m back. Kira Toussaint got even close to her WR (was 0.19sec shy and the only one under 26sec) as she left everyone behind to earn her second title here after the 200m a day ago (and she also became the top qualifier in the 100m earlier in the session). The hunt for the minor spoils were pretty wild, three hit the wall in a span of 0.15 sec, Analia Pigree was 0.03sec faster than the other Dutch Maaike de Waard to claim France’s first podium here.
It was upset time in the men’s 200m fly – the long-course king of the event Kristof Milak visibly struggled to gain some speed in the short pool (he is much better in flying than making turns and underwater kicks) while Alberto Razzetti enjoyed himself in the water. The Italian’s win was never in danger, indeed he outpaced Milak in all four legs, something never happens to the Hungarian in the 50m pool. Razzetti’s winning margin was 0.87sec, while Milak was 0.01sec shy of his winning time at the long-course Europeans this May (and was almost half second off his l/c WR).
The premiere of the women’s 1500m free almost brought a better mark than the obvious CR: Anastasia Kirpichnikova swam inside the world record for most of the time but at the end she fell 0.29sec short. The Russian, training in the long-distancers’ French paradise under coach Philippe Lucas, didn’t get too much pushing from the others as the two Italians lagged behind early on, Simona Quadarella – whose long-course reign is unquestionable – this time arrived 15.86sec later, though ahead of compatriot Martina Caramignoli. Kirpichnikova also joined the circle of the ‘double-makers’ as she had won the 800m two days ago and was greeted by the distance’s male legend, Olympic champion and current Russian Fed President Vladimir Salnikov in the interview zone – however, she still started crying in the live broadcast because of the missed WR.
The session-ending event also mirrored the two top nations’ special duel for the medals. So far, the Russians are more efficient in collecting golds, their title-count stands at 8 (8-4-4), while Italy has the most in total, 21, including an incredible load of silvers (4-11-6).