Vilnius 2024: Sara Curtis adds to glittering collection with fifth gold medal, CR for Italy in men’s 4×200 freestyle relay

Credit to: European Aquatics

Sara Curtis claimed her fifth gold medal with a narrow victory in the 100m freestyle as she clinched the sprint double on the penultimate day of the European Junior Swimming Championships.

Kuzey Tuncelli and Amelie Blocksidge completed the distance double with triumphs in their respective 800m freestyle races.

Italy took more than three seconds off the Championship record in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay in 7:12.15.

Teo del Riego Torres of Spain flew to a 50m butterfly Championship mark of 23.41 in the prelims before qualifying swiftest in the evening.

Italy lead the medal table heading into the final day with nine golds, seven silvers and a solitary bronze ahead of Türkiye (four golds, two silvers, three bronzes) and Great Britain (three golds, three silvers, four bronzes).

CURTIS HOLDS OFF CHALLENGE FOR MORE SILVERWARE

Credit to: European Aquatics

Curtis added gold to her titles in the 50 free and back as well as the women’s and mixed 4x100m freestyle relays.

The Italian had a superb start and her powerful, straight-arm stroke saw her turn in 25.79, just 0.09 outside the World Junior record.

In the final 25m, however, Minna Abraham of Hungary ate into the deficit with every stroke and moved on to Curtis’ shoulder in the last metres.

Curtis remained composed and got the touch by 0.06 in 54.22 to Abraham’s 54.28 with Grace Davison of Ireland taking bronze in 55.11.

TUNCELLI DOMINATES FOR DOUBLE

Credit to: European Aquatics

Tuncelli completed the distance double with a dominant victory in the 800m freestyle.

The 16-year-old demolished the 1500 World Junior record in 14:41.89 a couple of days ago and he was 0.30secs inside Lorenzo Galossi’s 800 standard of 7:43.37 at the 300m mark.

While the prospect steadily slipped away, it was still an authoritative performance by the teenager who came home in 7:48.01, a PB and a Turkish record, lowering his own mark of 7:48.53 from the World Championships in Doha in February.

He now heads to Paris for his Olympic debut later this month where his stated aim is to make a final although that may have been revised given his performances in the Lithuanian capital.

Underlining his dominance was Tuncelli’s winning margin of 8.17secs over Muhammad Yusuf Ozden who clocked 7:56.18, making it a Turkish 1-2.

Johannes Liebmann of Germany added 800 bronze to his 1500 silver in 7:58.39.

BLOCKSIDGE FENDS OFF CHALLENGE FOR GOLD

Blocksidge started to move clear at the halfway stage and extended her lead to over a body length.

Vivien Jackl had other ideas, however, and started to eat into the deficit from lane two.

The 15-year-old from Great Britain responded to the challenge and ensured he clinched the double in a PB of 8:30.05.

Jackl was second in 8:32.33 with Emma Giannelli coming from fifth at the final turn to come through for bronze in 8:33.83.

ITALY DOWN HUNGARY RECORD

Credit to: European Aquatics

Italy dominated the men’s 4x200m freestyle throughout following a 1:47.26 lead-off from Paris-bound Alessandro Ragaini.

Filippo Bertoni (1:49.36) and Gabriele Valente (1:49.05) handed over to Carlos D’Ambrosio who split 1:46.48 on the anchor leg as the youngest member of Team Italia at the Olympics steered the quartet into the wall in record time.

They sliced 3.31secs from the previous standard of 7:15.46 set by Hungary at the 2017 championships in Netanya, Israel.

Germany and Türkiye battled it out for the minor medals with the former getting the touch in 7:19.85 to 7:19.99.

DUMONT FLIES TO THE TOP OF THE PODIUM

Credit to: European Aquatics

Sarah Dumont and Laura Cabanes Garzas swam stroke for stroke going into the final turn of the women’s 200m butterfly.

The Belgian had the better turn and pulled ahead while Alina Baievych, last year’s silver medallist, came back at the pair.

Dumont touched in 2:09.64 to lower her national record of 2:09.92 set at the Canet stop of the Mare Nostrum tour in May.

Cabanes Garzas was second in 2:09.96 with Baievych third in 2:10.09.

In semi-final action, Vlaho Nenadic of Croatia scorched to a 48.88 top time in the men’s 100m freestyle and Czechia’s Jakub Jan Krischke led the 100m backstroke in 55.02.

Evangelos Efraim Ntoumas of Greece headed the men’s 100m breaststroke in 1:01.16.

Eneli Jefimova set an Estonian record of 1:06.08 in the 100m breaststroke semifinals to take 0.10secs from her standard of 1:06.18 set at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka.

Martine Damborg of Denmark is fastest into the women’s 50 fly final in 26.33, Great Britain’s Phoebe Cooper headed the 200IM in 2:15.40 and Lora Komoroczy led the 100m backstroke in 1:01.45.

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