Belarus’ Ihar Boki justified why he is the reigning Paralympic, world and European champion on day three (Saturday) of the World Para Swimming World Series in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy.
The 24-year-old swam to gold in the men’s 400m freestyle with 971 points to capture his first victory in Lignano – a standardised points system is used to calculate each athletes' results as swimmers from multiple categories compete in each event.
The S13 swimmer’s win was redemption for just missing out on first place on Friday’s 100m backstroke. It was also a promising start to 2019 with his first international competition since winning seven gold medals in seven days at August’s European Championships in Dublin, Ireland.
On Saturday, the Belarusian sensation beat out Italy’s Federico Bicelli (928) and Poland’s Igor Hrehorowicz (882).
Teenage talent Carlotta Gilli got the host nation excited by taking her first senior victory of the competition in the women’s 200m individual medley. The SM13 athlete has continued impressing since bursting into the scene at the Mexico City 2017 World Championships.
The 18-year-old won her event on Saturday with 978 points to show why she is the defending world and European champion. Germany’s Verena Schott (920) and Hungary’s Banka Pap (914) could not match Gilli’s speed.
There were more reasons to celebrate for the hosts. Another one of their Dublin 2018 champions, Francesca Xenia Palazzo, picked up the win in the women’s 400m freestyle for her first international win since August’s Europeans.
She touched the wall to grab gold with 948 points, as Pap (899) and Germany’s Verena Schott (871) completed the podium.
It did not stop for Italy.
Their S5 European champion Antonio Fantin landed his third win in Lignano, this time in the men’s 50m freestyle (1056). His compatriot Simone Barlaam finished one point behind in second and and Belarus’ Yahor Shchalkanau (952) rounded off the top three.
Spain’s Antoni Ponce took back-to-back golds, tallying the men’s 200m individual medley to his collection from Lignano.
Worlds bronze medallist from 2017 and defending European champion, Ponce showed his intent to be at the top in the SM5 category by finishing with 1086 points, bumping Italy’s Federico Morlacchi (949) to second and Iceland’s Isak Jonsson (938) to third.
Competition is being live streamed on World Para Swimming’s website.
Full results are available on the event’s official website.
The season finale World Series event will again take place in Berlin, Germany, for the third year in a row, between 6 and 9 June.