“I want to go and relax for a few days and then come back and train harder and harder for Rio.”
The world record count at the 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships rose to 28 on Saturday (7 May), as marks fell to Ukraine’s Oksana Khrul and Russia’s Valeriia Shabalina on the closing night of competition in Funchal, Portugal.
Shabalina and Great Britain’s Bethany Firth relished the challenge of taking each other on in the women’s 200m individual medley SM14, with both women incredibly swimming inside the world record.
The pair were neck and neck at 150m but it was European and world champion Shabalina (2:18.37) who shaved nearly three seconds of her own previous world best time of 2:21.33 to take the gold. Firth swam a 2:21.24 to secure the silver ahead of her teammate Jessica-Jane Applegate (2:26.49).
Khrul (35.48) stripped more than half a second off her own world record from the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the women’s 50m butterfly S6. The 21-year-old was pushed all the way by Great Britain’s Eleanor Robinson (35.66) who also went under the world record time. Ireland’s rising star Nicole Turner (38.17) secured her third medal of the week with bronze.
Belarusian world and Paralympic champion Ihar Boki (2:05.43) became the most decorated athlete of the Championships, with his sixth gold in the men’s 200m individual medley SM13. Ukraine’s Iaroslav Denysenko (2:11.30) tried all week to top the five-time Paralympic champion but settled for a fifth silver. Azerbaijan’s Dzmitry Salei (2:12.90) took bronze.
Uzbekistan’s Shokshsanamkhon Toshpulatova (2:26.59) got the gold medal she had been fighting for all week, taking the Open crown in the women’s 200m individual SM13. The 19-year-old set an incredible 11th Asian record to beat Ukraine’s Anna Stetsenko (2:28.54) who claimed the European gold also with a new regional record. Russia’s former European champion Darya Stukalova (2:30.20) got the European silver and Spain’s Ariadna Edo Beltran (2:35.31) the regional bronze.
Italy’s Federico Morlacchi (4:19.28) successfully defended his gold medal from 2014 in the men’s 400m freestyle S9, for his fifth title of the week. Croatia’s Kristjian Vincetic (4:22.95) was second.
“I want to go and relax for a few days and then come back and train harder and harder for Rio,” Morlacchi said. “I love sport because you can lose, you can win, it’s not important.”
The hosts got their second medal courtesy of David Grachat (4:28.26) with bronze.
“I’m very proud of all these people who push for us [in organising the Championships], it was very, very good fun,” Grachat said. “I’m going to train hard so I can maybe win a medal [in Rio].”
A further two golds went to Italy on Saturday evening.
European and Paralympic champion Cecilia Camellini (1:09.20) secured gold in the women’s 100m freestyle S11. Sweden’s Maja Reichard was close behind in 1:09.74, showing that the close rivalry between the pair has a way to run yet.
The Netherland’s Liesette Bruinsma (1:09.85) was delighted with her fifth medal of the week with bronze.
Arjola Trimi (41.12) rounded off the trio of Italian swimmers to leave with gold, in the women’s 50m freestyle S4. The Ukrainian duo of Mariia Lafina (47.74) and Maryna Verbova (52.48) grabbed silver and bronze respectively.
Hungary’s Bianka Pap (1:09.11) showed why she will be a face to look out for at Rio 2016 with her first major international title in the women’s 100m backstroke S10.
Nina Ryabova (1:09.29) took silver and France’s Anna Roulet, with her first major international medal since 2011, was third.
Great Britain added four more golds to their tally, securing their third place in the medals table with 20 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze.
Stephanie Millward (4:45.71) dominated for most of the women’s 400m freestyle S9 on the way to her second consecutive European gold in the event. Spain’s Nuria Marques Soto (4:53.77) also finished her Championships on the podium yet again, after winning seven medals in total. Hungary’s Zsofia Konkoly (4:54.84) was third.
European champion Susannah Rodgers (33.80) kept her gold in the women’s 50m freestyle S7. Germany’s Denise Grahl (34.25) took silver and Israel’s Erel Halevi (37.77) the bronze.
Stephanie Slater (30.57), the title holder from 2014, claimed gold in the women’s 50m freestyle S8. Ukraine’s Kateryna Istomina (31.76) sealed silver and Russia’s Olesia Vladykina (31.84) bronze.
Millward and Rodgers were also part of the gold-medal winning women's 4x100m medley relay 34 points team, featuring Harriet Lee and Claire Cashmore, who took the title in 4:35.15. Russia were second in 4:58.79 whilst Hungary (5:15.11) just pipped Spain to the wall for bronze.
Ukraine’s title holder Yevheniy Bohodayko (28.23) won his fourth gold of the Championships in the men’s 50m freestyle S7. A very close race saw him triumph over Russia’s Sergey Sukharev (28.52) and Germany’s Tobias Pollap (28.98) in second and third respectively.
Dutch European champion Marc Evers swam expertly to his second gold in the men’s 200m individual medley SM14, pulling away from the field during the freestyle leg to finish in 2:11.67.
“It was good swimming after the bad day in the breaststroke, but sometimes you learn from something and that can sometimes happen,” Evers said. “It was slow though, but the 2:11 is ok for now and I want to be faster in Rio.”
Russia’s Mikhail Kuliabin (2:14.21) sealed silver and Great Britain’s Thomas Hamer (2:15.94) was third.
Teresa Perales (38.01) took her fourth, and Spain’s 11th, gold of the Championships in the women’s 50m freestyle S5. Brazil’s Joana Maria Silva (38.16) pushed her to the wall but just missed out on the gold, securing Open silver. The Czech Republic’s Bela Treboniva (38.62) left with European silver. France’s Anita Fatis took the European bronze.
The men’s 50m freestyle S4 was an emotional affair, as it saw the final international race of Spain’s six-time Paralympian, Sydney 2000 gold medallist and European champion Richard Oribe.
Russia’s Roman Zhdanov (39.57) took the baton from the Spaniard, leaving France’s David Smetanine (40.13) with silver and Ukraine’s Andrii Derevinskyi (41.23) in bronze.
Paralympic, world and European champion Denis Tarasov (26.21) made sure he left with five gold medals for Russia in the men’s 50 freestyle S8. Ukrainian teammates Bohdan Hrynenko (26.92) and Iurii Bozhynskyi (27.20) claimed silver and bronze respectively.
Brazilian world champion Andre Brasil (1:01.34) survived a late charge from Estonia’s Kardu Ploomipuu (1:01.69) in the men’s 100m backstroke S10 to take Open gold. Ploompiuu took European gold and Open silver ahead of Italy’s Riccardo Menciotti (1:02.62) with European silver. Ukraine’s Denys Dubrov (1:03.03) was third on the regional podium.
“This has been a good test for Rio. Like here, we will swim in a lot of events,” Brasil said. “The Paralympic Games will be completely different. The Brazilian people will see how the sport has grown and how much Paralympic sport has improved.”
Vietnam’s Thanh Tung Vo (34.43) set a new Asian record on his way to Open gold in the men’s 50m freestyle S5. Spain’s Sebastian Rodriguez (34.60) just edged Great Britain’s Andrew Mullen (35.41).
Brazil’s World Championships silver medallist teammate Matheus Sousa (59.72) was the victor in the men’s 100m freestyle S11. He beat South Africa’s Hendri Herbst (1:01.17) to the wall for Open silver.
“I am really happy, although I want to do 58.00,” Sousa said. “It’s a great result and I’m going back to Brazil with a big smile on my face, because it’s a big year.”
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Maschenko (1:01.41) took Open bronze and European gold in front of Belarusian Hryhory Zudzilau (1:02.21) with European silver. Poland’s Wojciech Artur Makowski (1:03.13) completed the European podium in third.
Colombia’s Nelson Crispin (31.51) secured his fourth Open gold of the Championships in the men’s 50m butterfly S6. Russia’s Sergey Klyagin (33.66) and Spain’s Alejandro Yared Rojas Cabrera (36.31) were second and third respectively.
Ukraine left the 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships at the top of the medals table with 37 golds, 36 silver and 25 bronze.
Russia were second with 30 golds, 31 silver and 25 bronze.
The 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships have featured 450 swimmers from 51 countries.
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