The first winner in Korfu, Mate Karpati of Hungary – Credit: European Aquatics/Istvan Derencsenyi
Hungarian swimmers claimed four medals – including two golds – on the opening day of the 2023 European Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Corfu, Greece.
There were also impressive successes for athletes from Great Britain and Poland, while Spain, Italy and Germany also attained strong podium finishes.
The first morning action, staged at a magnificent venue, under the Old Fortress of Corfu, saw two commanding performances from the youngest swimmers – the 14-15-year-olds) in the 5km races.
Hungary’s Mate Karpati and Great Britain’s Amelie Blocksidge swam clear in the opening stages of their respective races and were never challenged.
Blocksidge rounded off an incredible season, which has included victories at the senior British Championships and the European Youth Olympic Festival, with another title – her latest attained by an astonishing one minute and 16 seconds.
Hungary’s Napsugar Nagy and Alba Rubio of Spain claimed silver and bronze respectively.
Blocksidge on her way to win the 5km race
Karpati was also in dominant form, claiming victory in the boys’ event by 28 seconds, with Italy’s Michele Pezzoli out-touching Germany’s Leo Leverkus by 0.9 secs for silver.
Italian Marco Barretta had been in line for a podium finish in the race, but he took a wrong turn and after hitting the touch-panel on the wrong side he was forced to swim back around the finishing area for a legal end to the race. He placed seventh.
The Magyars – Hungarian swimmers – switched roles for 7.5km events (for 16-17-year-olds) in the afternoon – this time the women’s winner came from their camp.
Glenda Abonyi-Toth pulled clear from the pack during the final lap and hit the panel 15 seconds ahead of Spain’s Pena Martinez, with Hannah Gatjen of Germany third.
In the men’s race Poland’s Bartosz Kapala bettered the Hungarian favourite Hunor Kovacs-Seres, who had won the junior world title last year.
Kapala’s tactics worked brilliantly as he tracked Kovacs-Seres throughout the race before timing his attack to perfection and securing victory by four seconds.
Kovacs-Seres edged Germany’s Arne Schubert, by 0.1 secs to claim second.
Champion Bartosz Kapala is hailed by his bronze medal winning rival Arne Schubert after the race
The meet will continue with the big race, the 10km event for the 18-19 years old on Saturday morning – stay tuned and follow all the action live on the LEN YouTube Channel.
Quotes from day one of Corfu 2023 champions:
Mate Karpati, HUN, boys’ 5km gold:
“Words can’t really describe what I felt once I touched the panel… Perhaps tears would do…
“Winning this race was never in my dreams, I was already happy to make the team for the championship. I took the lead early on and watched the others how they react, I increased the pace in the third round and was a bit surprised that one was coming with me – I was like, ‘OK, be it then’, and managed to win at the end.”
Amelie Blocksidge, GBR, girls’ 5km gold:
“I was a bit surprised (at leading by such a margin), I thought I would have been in a pack, but it happened the other way.
“This gold medal means a lot, I’m really happy that being in a European event I’m topping my age-group.”
Bartosz Kapala, POL, men’s 7.5km gold:
“My plan was to swim with the leaders, behind them, on a travelling pace and switch gears for the finish. I’m more than happy that it worked that well.
“I didn’t expect gold medal or a medal at all, I just wanted to swim this race the best I could. It’s great that it ended this way.”
Glenda Abonyi-Toth, HUN, women’s 7.5km gold:
“I didn’t have a big plan, only to swim with the pack, possibly behind them, but during the race I felt I could go faster. Then at the beginning of the last lap I saw that two or three girls speeding up and I was like, OK, I can go with them, and it worked out.
“I’m still not really aware of what I’ve just achieved here, that I have a gold medal, but I’m extremely happy.”
For detailed results, click on this link.