Hungary dominate the Eurojuniors 2022. 100m and 200m world champion Popovici triumphs in front of home crowd
The European Aquatics Junior Championships in Bucharest have come to an end. In the six days dedicated to the European youth swimming elite, there were many defending champions and new emerging stars, all looking to qualify for Roma 2022. Among them Romania’s David Popovici, who returned from the FINA world championships Budapest 2022 with two world titles in the freestyle events, was welcomed with a standing ovation by the home crowd. The 18-year-old athlete, who was born just a few kilometres away from the competition venue, won the men’s 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle and took another hat-trick, repeating his feat in Rome in 2021. Popovici also won a relay gold in the 4x100m freestyle and his 100m was rated as the best performance of the European Junior Championships.
Turkey's Merve Tuncel also got on the highest step of the podium in the women’s 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle as she did last year. The young middle distance runner also added a bronze in the 200m. The 16-year-old Estonian breaststroker Eneli Jefimova put up another outstanding performance winning all the three races: 50m, 100m and 200m.
In Bucharest Hungary dominate the final medals table: 14 medals (6 golds, 5 silvers and 3 bronze). The Magyar success came thanks to athletes Dora Molnar and Nikoletta Padar, gold medallists respectively in the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke, and in the 100m and 200m freestyle. The two Hungarians were also joint winners of the 4x200m freestyle relay gold medal and the 4x100m mixed silver medal, contributing to the triumph of the Hungarian national team. Second place for Poland thanks to an extraordinary Masiuk Ksawery who claimed gold in the men’s 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke. Popovici’s Romania, who hosted for the first time an event of such magnitude, is third in the medals tally.
Italy won the Team Trophy for the first time in an European Junior Championships. The strongest Italian athlete was Lorenzo Galossi, who secured gold in the men’s 400m and 800m freestyle. The Roman swimmer excelled in the 400m event, where he started from the first lane and made a final push in the last leg, following in the footsteps of the 1500m world champion and friend Gregorio Paltrinieri. Italy also stood out in the relays: in the men's events they claimed gold in the 4x200m freestyle and bronze in the 4x100m freestyle while in the women's events they took gold in the 4x100m, silver in the 4x200m freestyle and bronze in the 4x100m mixed.
Mary-Ambre Moluh's performance in the women’s 50m backstroke was also noteworthy. The Frenchwoman swam in 27.74, scoring 920 FINA table points to get the best female performance’s prize of the Eurojuniors 2022.