Belgrade 2024: Hungary finally land relay gold and Italy lift the team trophy as open water concludes

Published On: June 15, 2024

Credit to:  European Aquatics

After silver and bronze-medal finishes in the last five majors (Europeans and Worlds), Hungary upgraded to gold in the 4x1500m open water mixed relay. Fielding their top stars, the Magyars were too strong and cruised to victory with a winning margin of almost 21 seconds as the open water competition concluded at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024.

Since young David Betlehem joined Kristof Rasovszky at senior competition back in 2021 at the Europeans, Hungary had the quality to be among the medal contenders in the open water relay events.

To have a shot at the podium, teams need two strong male swimmers as a minimum requirement and here in Belgrade no other team fielded such a strong line-up.

The Hungarian women, Mira Szimcsak and Bettina Fabian finished in the top eight in the 5km and 10km with Fabian winning bronze in the shorter race.

Betlehem won the 5km and came third in the 10km and while Rasovszky may have had a less successful meet so far, he is the reigning 10km world champion.

And even though Italy and Spain gained a 5sec lead in the first half of the race – among the teams starting with two women in the first two legs – Betlehem crashed the field on the third lap and built a decisive advantage.

He needed only 500m to pass his Spanish rival Alejandro Puebla and catch up with the Israeli leader Yonatan Adhut and Italy’s Andrea Filadelli.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Over the remaining 1000m, he left everyone behind, enabling Rasovszky to start the last leg with a huge 20sec advantage.

Even if Italy sent Marcelo Guidi, the bronze medallist in the 5km, to the battlefield as their anchor, it was inevitable that only a terrible mistake would prevent the Hungarians from grabbing the title.

Rasovszky was not in the mood to commit any error though but instead the experienced warrior increased his lead and was ahead by 25sec at the last checkpoint.

At the end, he won by 21sec with the quartet finishing in 1:06:07.7 ahead of Italy (1:06:28.6) and France (1:06:51.7).

Gold had been some time coming and followed bronze at the 2021 Europeans, silvers at the 2022 Worlds, 2022 Europeans, 2023 Worlds and bronze at the 2024 Worlds.

“After years of waiting, we finally did it” Rasovszky said. “Well, looking at the lineups, we knew that his should be our day.

“I told David (Betlehem) to do a clean job and build a big lead before the last takeover, so finally I can have an easy swim as the anchor after so many hard battles at the previous events.

“He is a good boy, he did what I asked, so after a while I was a bit embarrassed to swim so lonely.

“This is a great end to the championships, now go home and do our final preps for the Olympics.”

Credit to: Istvan Derencsenyi

The Italian quartet of Giulia GabbrielleschiGinevra Taddeucci, Filadelli and Guidi finished as comfortable runners-up.

Guidi said: “This a perfect finish for our team, we are very happy with this medal.

“You know, we don’t have Greg (Paltrinieri) and Domenico (Acerenza) here, without them it was a challenge to finish even second, but we could achieve that.

“It was just perfect out today, the weather, the lake, the race.”

Caroline JouisseOceane CassignolSascha Velly and Marc-Antoine Olivier made up the French squad that claimed bronze.

It was Olivier’s third medal of Belgrade 2024 following silver in the 5 and 10km races.

His speed was decisive in the fourth lap, ensuring the German and Spanish quartets wouldn’t have momentum in the battle for the podium.

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

“A third medal for me, so this is my best-ever performance at the Europeans which is great just weeks before the Olympics” the Frenchman said.

“For our team it’s a good result to be on the podium. Now my focus is on the Olympics, I have still some work to do in order to be stronger in the finish.”

This event concluded the open water meet where Italy could lift the team trophy once more.

They won medals in each event for a total of nine, three of which were gold.

Medal Table

Italy               3-4-2

Germany       2-1-0

Hungary        2-0-2

France           0-2-2

Spain             0-1-1

Team Trophy (top 3)

1. Italy 214, 2. Germany 161, 3. Hungary 159

Download the European Aquatics app for exclusive content, news and results