World Para Swimming has announced its Ones to Watch ahead of the European Open Championships hosted by Madeira Island’s capital Funchal from 16 to 22 May.
The list consists of nine* female athletes from nine different countries who have the potential to shine at the sixth edition of the Euros and the second to take place in Madeira following the 2016 European Championships.
Madeira 2020 will be the biggest Para swimming event before the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in August.
Nearly 400 swimmers representing 48 nations will be competing at the Penteada Olympic Pools Complex.
SUMEYYE BOYACI, TURKEY
Boyaci became the first Turkish Para swimmer to win a silver medal at the World Championships when she claimed silver in the women’s 50m backstroke S5 at the 2019 edition in London. She is the European champion from Dublin 2018 in the same event.
CARLOTTA GILLI, ITALY
The ‘Dolphin of Moncalieri’ became a star in 2019 when she won six medals, including four golds, at the World Championships in London. Gilli, who only took up Para swimming in 2017, was voted Best Female Swimmer of the competition.
FANNI ILLES, HUNGARY
Illes has dominated the women’s 100m breaststroke SB4 since the Dublin 2018 European Championships winning a gold medal followed by another gold at the London 2019 Worlds. She underwent surgery on her shoulder after the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics to be ready for the 2021 season.
OLIWIA JABLONSKA, POLAND
The Polish swimmer is the reigning world and European champion in the women’s 400m freestyle S10. Before taking on the task of winning her first Paralympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Jablonska will try to win her third European title.
YELYZAVETA MERESHKO, UKRAINE
The four-time Paralympic champion will be looking for her 10th European championships title in Madeira. The women’s 400m freestyle S6 final against Great Britain’s Simmonds is set to be the highlight of Madeira 2020.
TERESA PERALES, SPAIN
Perales is the most decorated Spanish Para athlete at the Paralympic Games, having won 26 medals at the Games so far. At the age of 45, she is going into the European Open Championships as the reigning champion in the women’s 50m freestyle S5.
ELLIE ROBINSON, GREAT BRITAIN
Great Britain’s rising star became a Paralympic champion at the age of 15 at the Rio 2016 Games. She holds the world record in the women’s 100m butterfly S6, as well as the silver medal at the last Euros in Dublin 2018.
VERENA SCHOTT, GERMANY
The German swimmer has been the dominant force for over a decade. Schott is the favourite to win a medal in Madeira in the women’s 100m backstroke S6 as the reigning world and European champion.
SUSANA VEIGA, PORTUGAL
The young star broke into the international stage with a silver medal in the women’s 50m freestyle S9 at the Dublin 2018 European Championships. A year later, Veiga won second place at the World Championships in London in the same event.
*First published on 6 May 2021. Updated on 15 May 2021.