Sport preview, women's swimming: Sjöström's comeback in Roma. Pilato and Meilutyte ignite the breaststroke challenge
Everything is ready at the Foro Italico: tomorrow 11 August the spotlight will be shining on the pool at the Swimming Stadium until 17 August, but the first individual women's podium will not come until the second day of competition.
World record holder and world champion Sarah Sjöström returns to the European championships after last year's absence due to an injury and after two recent victories at the world championships in Budapest last June. The Swede, who won the world championships in Roma 2009, will face competition in the 50m freestyle from Poland's Katarzyna Wasick, the continental silver medallist and world champion in the same race.
The breaststroke duel between 17-year-old Italian Benedetta Pilato and Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte, who returned to competition after retiring in 2019 at the age of 22, will be heart-pounding. The Italian began to shine at the European championships in Budapest in 2021, claiming the world record in the 50m breaststroke (29.30) and then a year later she won the 100m breaststroke at the Duna Arena in the Magyar capital. On the other hand, at the world championships the reigning Olympic champion secured the most valuable medal in the shortest distance.
Simona Quadarella from Rome will do the honours. The Olympic bronze medallist in the women’s 800m freestyle was the first European swimmer to complete the hat-trick in the 400m, 800m and 1500m and could achieve this extraordinary feat for the third time in front of her home crowd after the 2018 and 2021 European championships.
Israel's Anastasia Gorbenko hopes to defend her title in the 200m individual medley, where she was left off the podium at the world championships in Budapest finishing fifth, but touching ahead of fellow European Katinka Hosszu. The Hungarian multiple medallist will return to the pool that first saw her excel in the 400m individual medley, an event in which she has been European champion since Debrecen 2012, hence beginning her climb towards success.
France's Analia Pigree arrives as favourite at Roma 2022 after finishing third in the world in the 50m backstroke behind Canada's Kylie Masse and the USA's Katharine Berkoff. The 21-year-old athlete is now aiming to claim the European title against the Dutch Kira Toussaint.
In Budapest 2020, Greece's Anna Nuntounaki and France's Marie Wattel had tied for gold in the 100m butterfly. At the Foro Italico in Rome, Sweden's Louise Hansson and 16-year-old Bosnian Lana Pudar will also be competing for the top spot on the podium in the event.
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