Top 7 moments from the European Championships

From Italy and Ukraine battling for the top of the medals tally to young and veteran stars, a closer look at a great week in Portugal 24 May 2021
A group of two women and one man in wheelchairs ahead of two women and three men standing all of them showing their gold medals
The Italian men's and women's 4x100m freestyle 34pts relay teams showing their medals at Madeira 2020
ⒸPedro Vasconcelos / FPN
By World Para Swimming

Madeira had to wait for one year to receive the European Open Championships but delivered seven unforgettable days at the Penteada Olympic Swimming Pools Complex in the capital Funchal.

Thirty one of the 47 participant nations medalled in the competition, 19 of them took at least one gold – including hosts Portugal.

Here are the top seven moments from Madeira 2020.

1. Mission accomplished

Everyone involved in the European Open Championships had to follow strict protocols due to COVID-19 in order to give athletes the best conditions to put on great performances. And so, they did. 

Madeira witnessed 13 world records, 23 European records and nine Americas record from some of the world’s best who are set to return to the island in June next year for the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships.


2. Boki does it again  

Madeira was a familiar pool for Boki who had finished as the most decorated athlete at the Funchal 2016 European Championships with six golds and one bronze. Five years later, the Belarus star repeated his seven podiums but this time with six victories and one second place.

Boki also broke two world records at Madeira 2020 in the men’s 100m butterfly S13 and the 200m individual medley SM13.


3. Nora Meister shows her credentials

In Madeira Nora Meister equalled her three medals and two golds from Dublin 2018, when she became the first Swiss Para swimmer to win the European title. But this time, her two triumphs came with a world record in the women’s 400m freestyle S6 and a European record in the 100m backstroke S6.

Tokyo 2020 will be Meister’s first Paralympic Games and the 18-year-old will certainly be a one to watch. Switzerland last won a Para swimming medal in the Games 21 years ago in Sydney, Australia.


4. A golden guest from Brazil

Madeira 2020 was a European Open Championships, so athletes from outside the continent had a chance to compete in preparation for Tokyo 2020. Brazil’s Gabriel Bandeira made his international debut with outstanding performances in the men’s S14 class.

Bandeira took six gold medals in six races and improved his own Americas record eight times during the week in Portugal. Another one to watch for the Paralympic Games in August.


5. Krypak and Mereshko lead Ukraine

Ukraine led the European medal standings and finished one gold behind Italy in the overall Open Championships medals table. Fourteen Ukrainian podiums had either Maksym Krypak or Yelyzaveta Mereshko on it.

Mereshko took seven medals in Portugal, including four victories in the women’s S6 and SB5 classes. Krypak made a clean sweep of six golds in six events in the men’s S10.


6. Susana Veiga makes history

Until the last day at Madeira 2020, Portugal had never won a gold medal in six editions of the European Championships. That was until Susana Veiga jumped in the water for the women’s 50m freestyle S9.

The young star touched the wall 28 seconds later to break the European record and make the Portuguese national anthem play for the first time. She also took a silver in the 100m freestyle S9.


7. Italy tops the medals tally

When Madeira first hosted the European Championships at Funchal 2016, Italy finished in fourth place with 13 gold medals. Half a decade later, the Italian team jumped to the top of the medal standings with 34 golds – and impressive six world records in seven days.

Giulia Terzi was the most successful Italian athlete at the Euros with seven medals in the women’s S7 class, followed by Simone Barlaam in the men’s S9 and Carlotta Gilli in women’s S13 with six podiums each.