The gold medal the Irish fans waited a week for finally happened on the closing day of the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships on Sunday (19 August).
It was the emotional highlight of a day that also saw Ukraine beat the 100-medal mark to top the table in Dublin and a six-year-old record broken by Italy’s Simone Barlaam.
When Ellen Keane finished first in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8 (1:23.29), the National Aquatic Centre erupted in celebration – led by Keane’s parents Laura and Eddie in their green Shamrock suits.
“I was so nervous but the best thing about the breaststroke is that you actually get to see the crowd when you breathe. They pushed me and really helped me. This means so much,” said Keane.
Spain’s Nuria Marques Soto finished with silver and Greece’s Efthymia Gkouli with bronze.
With an average of 15 medals per day, it was not a question of if Ukrainian swimmers could reach the podium more than one hundred times in Dublin – but when.
Vasyl Krainyk knew the total count was at 99 when he jumped in the water for the men’s 200m individual medley SM14. He was fourth in the first turn, then second in the last one and, in the end, made the 100th medal a gold one. (2:12.72).
“I knew we were close to a hundred medals and I felt a lot of pressure. But now I am just so happy,” said Krainyk who took his first gold after three bronze medals in Ireland.
Ukraine won other three gold medals on Sunday. Yelyzaveta Mereshko finished first in the women’s 100m freestyle S6 (1:11.51) in her fourth victory in individual events at the Euros.
Maksym Krypak also bagged his fourth individual gold in Ireland in the men’s 100m freestyle S10 (50.92). Yaroslav Semenenko won the men’s 50m butterfly S5 (35.90).
Ukraine finished the 2018 European Championships with 106 medals (33 gold, 44 silver and 29 bronze).
Barlaam breaks world record
Italy ended second in the standings with 28 golds, 23 silver and 21 bronze. The Italians were also responsible for the 22nd and last world record broken at Dublin 2018.
Simone Barlaam established a new mark for the men’s 50m freestyle S9 (25.00), a record which had stood since the London 2012 Paralympics.
“I’ve been trying to break this record for a long time and I’ve finally made it. It was not 24.99 but my main goal was the gold,” said Barlaam, who later helped the 4x100m medley relay 34 points team to another gold.
There also were three victories for Italy in women’s events, Giulia Ghiretti in the 50m butterfly S5 (46.68), Carlotta Gilli in the 50m freestyle S13 (26.90) and Alessia Berra in the 100m butterfly S12 (1:06.43).
Great Britain finished third in the medals table with 20 golds, 18 silvers and 17 bronze which included another podium sweep in the women’s S14 class.
Bethany Firth won the 200m individual medley SM14 (2:22.82) followed by Jessica-Jane Applegate and Louise Fiddes.
Michael Jones in the men’s 400m freestyle S7 (4:48.54) and the women’s 4x100m medley relay 34 points team (4:53.62) took more gold for the Brits on the final day.
Seven in seven for Boki
Belarus’ Ihar Boki won his seventh gold in seven races in the men’s 50m freestyle S13 (23.77). There was more gold for Belarus in the men’s 100m butterfly S12 with Dzmitry Salei (57.36).
Spain bagged three victories on the final day. Firstly, Oscar Salguero Galisteo claimed the men’s 100m breaststroke SB8 (1:09.24) title and then Israel Oliver won the men’s 100m butterfly S11 (1:05.44).
Sarai Gascon rounded off their success, topping the podium for the third time at the Euros, this time in the women’s 50m freestyle S9 (29.01).
The two Dutch winners of the day also took their third golds of Dublin 2018 on Sunday; Chantalle Zijderveld in the women’s 100m freestyle S10 (1:01.21) and Thijs van Hofweegen in the men’s 100m freestyle S6 (1:06.08).
World record holder Arnost Petracek took his and Czech Republic’s second gold in Dublin in the men’s 50m backstroke S4 (44.87).
Nora Meister put Switzerland in the number one position for the second time at the Euros, in the women’s 400m freestyle S7 (5:21.20).
Greece took its sixth gold at the Euros following Alexandra Stamatopoulou’s victory in the women’s 50m backstroke S4 (53.29).
Full results, highlights and reaction can be found on the Dublin 2018 website.