Summary – Day 1
Russia: Victory Day with two gold
After four years, world-class action has returned to the London Aquatics Centre as a series of fine diving and synchro events kicked off the European Aquatics Championships on Monday. The Russians held a Victory Day parade here as well, capturing both gold medals on offer on 9 May.
“What a pleasure to stand here, in this wonderful London Aquatics Centre. The vivid memories of the Olympic Games four years ago are still with us, but here we are once again for another fantastic championships in the British capital!” LEN President Paolo Barelli began his speech with these words at the opening ceremony, after Chairman of British Swimming, Maurice Watkins, welcomed everyone at the third European Championships held in Great Britain, after 1938 and 1993.
President Barelli, re-elected for another four years on the eve of the championships, also declared: “Here, in London, we will have even bigger media exposure and tremendous promotion for swimming, fair competition, healthy lifestyle. And last but not least, here, in London these European Championships will also inspire the young generations just as the Olympics did in 2012.”
The ceremony was followed by the first final of the fortnight, the team technical event in synchro. As expected, world title-holders Russia clinched the gold with a convincing performance, ahead of their fiercest rivals, the Ukrainians. The Italians were also overjoyed after finishing third.
In diving, as usual, the team event started the competitions. Again, it went down to a duel between the Russians and the Ukrainians. Despite a rare penalty deduction at Iuliia Prokopchuk’s second dive, the Ukrainians seemed to have a chance to finish atop but Russia’s Viktor Minibaev came up with the dive of the evening on the very last attempt. A perfect mark of 10 flashed on the scoreboard and the 102.60 pointer won the title for the Russians, who celebrated their nation’s treasured Victory Day in style in London. The home fans also had something to cheer as Georgia Ward and Matthew Lee earned the first medal, a bronze, for the hosts.