Belgrade 2024: Camila Rebelo takes the touch for first Portuguese gold in European Aquatics Championships history

Published On: June 18, 2024

Credit to:  European Aquatics

Camila Rebelo came through in the final metres to win the 200m backstroke and claim Portugal’s first title in European Aquatics Championships history.

Dora Molnar of Hungary appeared on course to add continental senior gold to the European Junior title she won in 2022 and 2023.

Rebelo, however, drew on to the Hungarian’s shoulder before inching past to take the title at the touch in 2:08.95.

Molnar was 0.07sec adrift in 2:09.02 as she led home teammate Eszter Szabo-Feltothy who claimed bronze in 2:09.21.

Rebelo wrote her own line in the history books as the first Portuguese swimmer to win European gold.

Diogo Ribeiro won 50m butterfly bronze at Roma 2022 and earlier this year became Portugal’s first World champion in the pool when he won the 50/100m butterfly double in Doha.

Gabriel Lopes won bronze in the men’s 200m individual medley with Angelica Andre also finishing third in the 10km open water in Rome.

It was also a national record as Rebelo cut 0.89sec from her own standard of 2:09.84 set at the 2023 Spanish Championships.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Rebelo was almost speechless, telling European Aquatics: “I know no words. The first is woah and ….so no words.

“At first, I view the time, 2:08. 2:08? Oh my God, it’s first!”

She added: “It’s unbelievable, I never thought I could win this race.

“We are working hard to be in the best shape for Paris. I’ve come here from an altitude camp two days ago, so I’m really surprised to win this gold.”

Although she was narrowly out-touched for gold, Molnar focused on the positives, two years after bronze at Roma 2022.

“After two years, I’ve managed to clock a new personal best and this is great,” said Molnar. “Also, I went one better than Rome, this is also good.

“I won’t cry for being beaten by 0.07sec today – I’m young, there are a lot of races ahead of me and I will have many chances to win gold.”

Szabó-Feltothy added: “A first medal is always great; I just don’t know how to step on to the podium at a big event like this.

“This was a good swim, a good time at this stage, I could improve during the days, clock the best time in the final, so I’m satisfied.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Melvin Imoudu came from fourth at halfway to move through the field and claim the men’s 100m breaststroke title in 58.84.

It was a maiden journey through the 59sec barrier for the 25-year-old who posted a time just 0.10secs outside Lucas Matzerath’s German record of 58.74.

Imoudu joins the likes of Adam PeatyQin HaiyangArno Kamminga and Nicolo Martinenghi in the land of the 58s this year.

He was the first German to have claimed the title since Gerald Mörken took gold for West Germany in 1977 and just the second overall.

“I definitely didn’t expect to swim that fast at this point, but I am very happy,” he said. “It is a very good feeling for Paris. I am just a few days in for preparing for this competition and I with this time, I think there is something more happening.”

Berkay Omer Ogretir of Turkey was second in 59.23, 0.04 ahead of Andrius Sidlauskas of Lithuania who clocked 59.27.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Barbora Seemanova set a national record of 53.50 as she led home Barbora Janickova for a Czechia 1-2 in the women’s 100m freestyle.

It was the second European title for Seemanova, three years after winning the 200m freestyle at Roma 2022.

The 24-year-old, who holds all the national freestyle records from 50-400m, was taken aback by her victory over two lengths.

She told European Aquatics: “It’s very special, it’s the first time in history actually and to be honest I am much more happy for Barbora than me because to share a podium with someone from the same country is very special for me.

“I didn’t expect anything from the 100. I am more focused on the 200 and 400 so I went into it with no expectations and it just made me happy.”

Nikolett Padar of Hungary came from sixth at the turn to take third by 0.01 in 54.22.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Stergios Bilas won Greece’s second title in as many days when he took the touch in the 50m butterfly.

Bilas won in 23.15, 0.04 ahead of Austrian Simon Bucher (23.19) and Daniel Gracik of Czechia (23.26).

Victory came 24 hours after Apostolos Papastamos became the first Greek swimmer to win the European 400IM title.

“I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a child, since I was watching those races on TV,” said Bilas who won the 50m fly and 50m free at the European U23 Swimming Championships in Dublin last August.

“Now I am a European champion, so I am happy, very happy.”

Ajna Kesely won the women’s 800m freestyle in 8:29.96 although that was outside the qualification time for Paris.

Great Britain’s Fleur Lewis (8:33.54) and Deniz Ertan of Turkey (8:34.31) followed the Hungarian on to the podium.

Israel was elevated to gold medallists in the mixed medley relay after the DQs of Poland and Greece, who had initially been awarded gold and bronze respectively.

The Israeli quartet took the title in 3:45.74 ahead of Germany (3:48.12) and Hungary (3:48.79).

Credit to: European Aquatics

All eyes were on David Popovici, who had posted a time of 47.90 in the 100 free prelims on Tuesday morning.

The Romanian, who set a WR of 46.86 en-route to the title at Roma 2022, split 23.18/24.64 to lower his heats time in 47.82 and book lane four for the final.

Popovici told European Aquatics: “I am feeling fine. I am excited to have a final tomorrow – it’s been a long time since I’ve had a final at this level as big as this.

“I like the fact that the pool is outside, that helps me as well.”

The double European champion also explained the importance of Belgrade 2024, saying: “It was very important for me and for anyone else who is here and maybe they are also at other competitions.

“The truth is that everyone needed a competition at this time of the year leading to Paris and it’s great for training very fast and training with competitors to your side.”

Andrej Barna of Serbia (48.04), Nandor Nemeth (48.05) and Kristof Milak (48.26) will be among the swimmers joining Popovici in the final.

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