Ponce sends out pre-Worlds warning with four gold in Limoges

Paralympic medallist finish with most gold medals as Spain and Great Britain end on top in last WPS competition before Manchester 2023 Worlds 29 May 2023
Antoni Ponce
Paralympic medallist and three-time world champion Antoni Ponce (S5) left France with an impressive four gold and a bronze medal, with the first positions coming in the men’s 50m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m medley and freestyle events.
ⒸGrégory Picout / Fédération Française Handisport
By Victor Pereira | For World Para Swimming

An action-packed weekend marked the last leg of the Citi Para Swimming World Series in Limoges, France before the long-awaited Manchester 2023 World Championships kicks off in two months.

Great Britain and Spain claimed the highest spots at the L’Aquapolis medals table with eight and six gold medals, respectively.

Paralympic medallist and three-time world champion Antoni Ponce (S5) left France with four gold and a bronze medal what made him the most seen face at the podium during the three-day meet. The Spanish swimmer finished first in the men’s 50m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, and 200m medley and freestyle. Ponce also had a third-place show in the 50m butterfly.

Besides, two other Spanish athletes grabbed gold in the competition. Nahia Zudaire (SB7) won the women’s 100m breaststroke event and Vicente Gil (SB3) was the winner in the men’s 50m breaststroke. A bronze medal completed the medal collection for Spain with Jacobo Brun (S9) in the men’s 400m freestyle.

Triple triumph

The performance of the British team was headed by three female athletes with Poppy Maskill and Ellie Challis grabbing three golds each while Alice Tai triumphed twice.

Challis (S3) triumphed in the 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke, the race in which she became a world champion last year in Madeira, and the 200m freestyle event. She however had to settled for the silver in the 50m backstroke.

Maskill (S14), in turn, won the women’s 100m butterfly, 200m medley, and 400m freestyle and grabbed two silver medals in the 100m backstroke and freestyle events.

Her teammate, Paralympic champion Tai (S8), added two golds and a silver to the Great Britain’s medal collection as she triumphed in the women’s 100m freestyle and backstroke and finished second in the women’s 50m butterfly.

Hosts’ performance

France put up a good show on their debut as World Series hosts, leaving the crowd at L’Aquapolis thrilled with 16 medals – 5 golds, 5 silvers, and 6 bronzes.

World champion Laurent Chardard (S6) confirmed his favouritism in the men’s 50m butterfly, same event he won at Madeira 2022, with the gold medal. Besides, Chardard also won in the 100m freestyle and grabbed a silver in the 50m freestyle.

Alex Portal (S13), the Paralympic medallist and a world champion, had a similar path in Limoges as he clinched two golds and a silver by winning the men’s 100m butterfly and 400m freestyle and finishing third in the 200m medley.

The fifth gold for France came from Ugo Didier’s performance in the men’s 100m backstroke race, in which he became the world champion at Mexico City 2017. Didier (S9) also grabbed two silver medals in the 200m medley and 400m freestyle. 

Pause for the Worlds

The Citi Para Swimming World Series now takes a break before resuming in October with a stop in Tijuana, Mexico and the final leg in November to be confirmed.

In the meantime, the most important event of the Para Swimming season is getting closer. For now, all eyes are on the Manchester 2023 World Championships which takes place from 31 July to 6 August at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

Four continents of the globe already received the World Series this semester as the competition started in Oceania with a stop in Melbourne, Australia in February. After that, in March, it travelled to Europe to be hosted by Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy and Sheffield, Great Britain. In April, it was time to visit America and Asia as the World Series passed through Minneapolis, United States and Singapore, respectively.

Earlier this month, the competition returned to Europe with a stop in Berlin, Germany before France.