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Roma 2022: David Popovici claims stunning second European title

Roma 2022: David Popovici claims stunning second European title David Popovici continued to live up to his star billing by following up his 100m freestyle European success with victory in the 200m event, while Italy’s Simona Quadarella also claimed her second individual title at Roma 2022.
There were also maiden European gold medals for  Louise Hansson  of Sweden, Switzerland’s Lisa Mamie and  Apostolos Christou  from Greece.

David Popovici  secured a Roma 2022 golden double with a second stunning victory, this time in the 200m freestyle, at the European Aquatics Championships in Italy.  The 17-year-old Romanian set a new world record in the 100m freestyle final on Saturday and was the overwhelming favourite to add the European 200m crown to his honours list. As expected, none of his rivals could come close with Popovici leading from the 50m and finishing in a time of one minute 42.97, which was a new world junior record. It was 0.97 secs short of the existing senior world record – set by German Paul Biedermann in the same Foro Italico venue at the 2009 Fina Worlds, but the teenager believes “one day” he could also break that landmark figure as well. Antonio Djakovic  (1:45.60) of Switzerland took silver, with Felix Auboeck  (1:45.89) claiming bronze. “I feel good,” Popovici told LEN TV. “I dipped under 1’43 which is the one thing that I’ve wanted for a long time.  “This one (the 200m world record) is a little bit harder if you ask me (than the 100m he broke), but I’m very excited because I can see the potential and I can see my coaches and I working harder, becoming even better and at one point breaking this world record.”

Simona Quadarella  had won the 1500m at each of the last two editions of the LEN European Aquatics Championships and based on the qualification time – no one was likely to come anywhere near denying her a third successive crown in the event. True to form this was a comfortable victory for the Italian who ensured her national anthem was played for the fifth successive night at Roma 2022.  She finished in 15 minutes 54.15 seconds, with Hungary’s 400m individual medley champion  Viktória Mihályvári-Farkas  (16:02.15) second and Italy’s  Martina Rita Caramignoli  (16:12.39) third. “It’s so special for me,” Quadarella told LEN TV. “There were a lot of people cheering for me and it was very important for me to win the 1500m. “I expected to win, but I wasn’t 100% sure as it was so long and I suffered too much but it is very beautiful to win here.”

Defending champion and world silver medallist Marie Wattel of France was the quickest qualifier and favourite for gold in the 100m fly final, but Louise Hansson had other ideas.  The Swedish swimmer underlined her nation’s strength in depth by making light of the absence of team-mate Sarah Sjöström from the event by powering to her first individual European title.  Hansson touched in 56.66 secs, with Wattel (56.80) second and 16-year-old Lana Pudar (57.27) of Bosnia and Herzegovina third. “It means so much because for many years I’ve been fighting for that medal and it’s really nice to be able to get out deliver that performance,” Hansson told LEN TV. “I had no idea how I’d done until I looked at the scoreboard and it means so much.” 

The partisan crowd expected to see further home success in the men’s 50m backstroke final, which featured 100m backstroke world record holder and European 50m butterfly champion  Thomas Ceccon.  The 21-year-old produced a strong start, but it was  Apostolos Christou  of Greece who claimed his maiden European title, touching in 24.36 secs; denying Ceccon a second individual title by 0.04 seconds. Ole Braunscweig  of Germany (24.68) took bronze. “It’s a personal best and first gold in Europeans and I have been trying since (London) 2016 which was my first time, so I’m really happy to be European champion,” he told LEN TV. “The crowd was awesome and since Covid we didn’t have much crowd or passion but it was a pleasure to swim here.”

2019 World bronze medallist  Martina Carraro  was in lane four, had strong backing from the home fans and began well, but it was Lisa Mamie of Switzerland who won out in what was a fascinating tactical battle. Mamie claimed gold in 2:23.27, with Carraro (2:23.64) second and Lithuania’s early leader  Kotryna Teterevkova  (2:24.16) taking bronze. “I wanted to do my own race and have fun,” Mamie told LEN TV. “It was a different strategy to yesterday and it worked: the venue is incredible and that’s why I’m very happy!”

The final event of day five was the mixed 4x100m relay which saw the lead change multiple times during this fascinating race as teams tried different tactics with their male and female swimmers. France led after the 100m mark before Italy and then Sweden touched first after the respective second and third legs. Back came the French though and around 90 minutes after being touched out of gold in the 100m butterfly final Marie Wattel drove her French team to victory. Britain’s Freya Anderson, a renowned last-leg relay specialist drove her team from fourth to second in the closing stages of the final leg and edged ahead of Sweden who were third. “It’s a special moment with great team and it’s very cool to win this,” said  Maxime Grousset. “It’s a new relay and I’m very happy to win the race.”

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