Roma 2022: Ukraine and Italy maintain gold medal run

Nick Hope byline

Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina continued her stunning run of success at the LEN European Championships with a two further gold medals, taking her Roma 2022 tally to five.

The double Olympic bronze medallist and world champion artistic swimmer had already won the Solo Technical title and joined her team-mates on the top step of the podium following the Team Technical and Highlights routine events.

She returned on day four to claim victories in the women’s Solo Free and Free Combination finals.

Georgio Minisini also maintained his 100% winning streak at his home championships by adding the men’s Solo Free to his Solo Technical and Mixed Duet Free crowns.

Simone Castrovillari / LEN

Women’s Solo Free Final

The first final of day four was that for the women’s Solo Free and after attaining the highest score in the preliminaries on the opening morning of Roma 2022, Fiedina – the favourite – again delivered an impressive performance.

She attained a total of 94.6333 for her display to ‘Daisy’s secret’ and ‘The Storm’ by Balasz Havasi. It was a score which saw the 20-year-old finish clear of second-placed Italian Linda Cerruti (92.1000), who claimed her fourth silver of Roma 2022.

Simone Castrovillari / LEN

Vasiliki Alexandri of Austria backed up her Solo technical bronze with a further bronze medal.

“This is a new choreography with music from last year, so I’m happy with the score because it’s better then what I got in Budapest at the Worlds for the same routine and it’s important to keep on improving,” said Fiedina.

Alexandri, who was unwell earlier in the week, was impressed with the way she was able to perform despite a challenging build-up to Sunday’s solo final.

“Honestly, I never thought this would be possible here,” she admitted. “Yes, I believed in this medal a lot before coming here, but then I got sick and lost all hope.

“I thought I would not start because on Wednesday, I still had a fever, but I waited, took it day by day and I think the only reason why I would not swim is if I broke a bone!”

Free Combination Final

Fiedina returned to the pool in the afternoon and joined her team-mate Olesia Derevianchenko and four other team-mates in the Free Combination Final.

Simone Castrovillari / LEN

Ukraine were outstanding and the judges rewarded their outstanding performance with a stunning total of 95.2000. That saw them finish ahead of Italy (92.6667), as Greece (89.4000) battled to bronze – their first artistic swimming medal of Roma 2022.

“The score is great,” said Vladyslava Aleksiiva. “I think our faces say it all, we are really happy. Our aim was to show all the magical moments in the nature, animal world, water world and I think we have succeeded.”

Silver medallist Gemma Galli of Italy stated their performance was a “best ever combo” from the team.

“We want to dedicate it to our team-mate Federica Sala, who is going to quit soon due to a problem with her leg. She’s trained with us despite all and she has not abandoned the team. It’s a great time for Italian artistic swimming and we’re proud to carry Italy’s fame far.” 

Simone Castrovillari / LEN

Delighted Greek swimmer Krystalenia Gialama stated their bronze medal was “very important” to show the “progress” of her team.

“This was probably the last time free combination is in this championship, so we are happy to show a great swim here and we are very proud of ourselves.”

Simone Castrovillari / LEN

Men’s Solo Free Final

Giorgio Minisini was expected to perform well at these championships after double World gold in mixed duet events at the Budapest Fina Worlds in June, but his solo skills were something of an unknown quantity given the event had never before been contested.

The Italian claimed an historic title in the first-ever Men’s Solo Technical final on day two and followed that up with an even stronger performance in the Men’s Solo Free final.

The crowd cheered him on as he swam to “Deus ti salvet Maria” Ave Maria in Sardinian by Fabrizio de André and attained a combined total of 88.4667 for gold.

Fernando Diaz del Rio of Spain (83.3333) claimed silver And French debutant Quentin Rakotomalala (78.0000) took bronze.

“This has been my greatest experience so far after the Budapest Worlds and it’s a magnificent experience with the home fans giving us even more energy.

“I would like to see a world where men are evaluated same as women. I think even the judges have to get used to grading men’s performances and see that we are as worthy as women, but this year has been a huge step forward.”

Bronze medallist Rakotomalala added; “It’s incredible, these are my first European Championships and I win a medal. We are writing history; it’s amazing to be part of this.”