Belgrade 2024: Leonie Beck clinches open water double with victory in the 5km

Credit to: European Aquatics

A year after completing the 5-10km double at the World Championships, Germany’s Leonie Beck also won back-to-back titles at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024.

If Leonie Beck is in the mood, it is hard to stop her. She had a couple of fine swims since her first podium in Glasgow 2018, where she won silver in the 5km, but she was never so dominant as at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka.

The previous year had already offered a preview of what was to come when she was runner-up at the World Championships in Budapest in the 10km before going on to win the European title at Roma 2022.

Beck won the first two World Cup races in 2023 before claiming the 5/10km World Championship double in Japan.

With that she sealed qualification to Paris 2024 and when she arrived in Doha for the World Championships in February, Beck was amid hard preparation and finished 20th in the 10km and 14th in the 5km.

Just a month later, Beck was back on the podium with victory on the opening stop of the World Cup at Soma Bay.

That was followed by bronze in Golfo Aranci on the second leg a month ago and now, amid the final countdown to Paris, she completed another double in Belgrade.

As with Barbara Pozzobon in the 10k, Beck had to contend with an Italian rival, Ginevra Taddeucci, and even if she tried to leave her behind, the German was not going to let her go.

As they turned onto the last straight, Beck was back in commanding mood, and touched in 58:25.3.

Taddeucci followed 1.2sec behind in 58:26.5 with Bettina Fabian taking bronze in 58:28.7.

It could well be considered a convincing margin of victory by Beck, some 26 hours after a gruelling 10km race where she beat Pozzobon by 0.1sec.

“I was dead from yesterday’s race (10km) so I just tried to hold on and keep a good position until the finish” Beck said.

“I managed to achieve that, I could stay in front, so I didn’t have to push that hard to catch up the leaders and did a great finish. I’m really happy with my second gold medal.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

It was a third European medal for Taddeucci who won relay gold and 10k silver two years ago in Rome.

After the team event, she has her sights on booking her place on the flight to Paris next month.

“I’m preparing for the Sette Colli to try to get the Olympic pass and for this reason I decided to do the 5K race and then the relay on Saturday to have a lighter programme as my shoulders would have felt the 10K much more,” she said.

“It was a good race, a good test before next week, faster than usual, and where I could wait a little longer to make my move.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

The race for the bronze was as thrilling as the gold medal contest.

Spain’s Maria de Valdes seemed to have withstood the challenge of Bettina Fabian until around 4970m.

However, the young Hungarian found an extra gear for the last metres to out-touch the Spaniard by 0.3sec and land her first individual medal at senior level.

That set the scene for some joint photos with partner David Betlehem after the ceremony.

They already posed for similar photos at the 2022 junior worlds where they won gold in the 10km races a few hours apart.

On Thursday Betlehem claimed his first senior title and Fabian her first senior medal.

Download the European Aquatics app for exclusive content, news and results