Great win for Belmonte, brilliant triumph for Laugher and Mears
Big day for Mireia Belmonte who earned her long awaited Olympic gold medal in the women’s 200m fly in Rio. And a big and forever treasured day, too, for British divers Jack Laugher and Chris Mears who made the almost impossible, clinched the gold in a synchro diving event, ahead of the Chinese. Further good news include items on a silver for Belgium’s Pieter Timmers and bronze for Russia’s Anton Chupkin in swimming.
In an exciting duel, where the lead constantly exchanged, Spain’s Mireia Belmonte managed to out-touch Aussie Madeline Grove by 0.03sec in the women’s butterfly to upgrade her silver from London to a gold in Rio. Belmonte, the only European in the final, came back from a 2015 shoulder surgery to prove her class.
Earlier, the men’s 200m breaststroke saw a shocking end as Dmitry Balandin won Kazakhstan first ever Olympic medal in swimming, a gold, upsetting all favourites, including Germany’s world and European champion Marco Koch (who had to settle for the 7th place) while swimming on lane 8. Russia’s Anton Chupkov saved Europe’s pride, the 19 year-old captured the bronze.
Belgium could also celebrate a medal-winning performance as Pieter Timmers turned his childhood dreams into reality and won the silver in the men’s 100m free. The last final of the day saw no European medal in the women’s 4x200m free final, of our three participants Sweden came 5th, Hungary was 6th and Russia 7th.
Perhaps the biggest news came from the diving pool – no, not on the green water, thanks God, it’s still safe and healthy, even if doesn’t look nice – where Great Britain’s Jack Laugher and Chris Mears made a miracle in the men’s synchro final. Twelve years after the most shocking Olympic final ever, when Greece’s Thomas Bimis and Nikolaos Siranidis found themselves on the top of the podium, a non-Chinese duo could win an Olympic title in the synchro events once again. Laugher and Mears, winner at the Europeans in May in London, came up with a solid and balanced performance while their Chinese rivals committed a mistake on their second attempt and later they couldn’t overcome the deficit occurred.
The Brits offered a series of fine dives, and even if the Chinese improved and they could come up with a 90+ pointer in the penultimate round, Laugher and Mears responded well, with a dive worthy of 91.20 points. They needed it, as the US duo got 98.04 for their last dive, the highest score of the evening, enough to pass the Chinese, too, but 4.11 points remained between the Brits and the Americans.
In water polo, things began to mess up in Group A. Brazil’s shocking 6-5 win over Serbia highlighted the day, halting the world and European champions’ 45-game winning streak after two years. Hungary has no wins and no losses after three rounds, just three ties – this time they drew with Greece (8-8), and again, they lost one point in the last seconds of the match. In the other group, Italy prevailed against Montenegro in a contest of great defending and high tensions (6-5), while Spain downed the title-holder Croatians 9-4 in the day-closing encounter.