Belgrade 2024: Leonie Beck retains 10k title in thrilling finish

Published On: June 12, 2024

Credit to: European Aquatics

Germany’s Leonie Beck had the last laugh, or rather the first touch, at the end of another thrilling 10km race as she retained her title. The first open water event at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 offered everything and the German managed to out-touch Barbara Pozzobon by 0.1sec as fellow Italian Giulia Gabbrielleschi landed the bronze medal.

Staged at the world-class regatta course at Ada Ciganlija, venue of the 2023 World Rowing Championships, the women’s 10km produced another epic race.

Title-holder and 2023 world champion Beck let the others swim in front as she travelled in the middle of the field, remaining in a position where she could launch the decisive attack on the last lap.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Lisa Pou from Monaco led for a while before Pozzobon and Gabbrielleschi teamed up to set the pace and in the second half of the race the Italy teammates consolidated the top two spots.

While swimmers formed a straight line in almost each lap while swimming towards the feeding pontoon, at the far side the pack was split into two groups and those following Pou lost a couple of metres as they had to redirect themselves when they arrived at the turning buoy.

On the last lap, Gabbrielleschi swam alone a bit further aside while Beck started gearing up and she passed Pozzobon who tried to stay close to her legs.

As they turned into the final straight, the German gained some advantage and soon it was a clear two-horse race between the pair who train together in Italy.

Pozzobon held on and in the last metres swam shoulder-to-shoulder with Beck but at the panel the German managed to time her touch a lot better, claiming victory in 2:00:54.8 to the Italian’s 2:00.54.9. Gabbrielleschi came third a further 3.6sec adrift in 2:00:58.5, securing a 2-3 finish for Italy.

Spain’s Angela Martinez finished fourth, ahead of early leader Bettina Fabian who finished fifth.

Credit to: European Aquatics

“It was a great race, I tried my best to have a great finish” Beck said. “Since I train with Barbara (Pozzobon) every day, I know perfectly how strong she is, so I know it’s going to be hard. At the end, I had the lucky touch. This is a great result on the way to Paris.”

Pozzobon was content with her silver despite losing top spot in the last metres.

“I won’t say that I’m unhappy,” she said. “First, because this is my first individual medal at the European Championships.

“Second, because Leonie (Beck) is my team-mate, so I’m glad that she had a good race and won the gold medal. I really gave everything I could, claimed a medal, so this is fine.

“We are happy that Italy had two medals here, I think we have one of strongest teams now.” She also added that she couldn’t see Beck clearly.

“My goggles were filled with water as I got a punch earlier in the race.” Gabbrielleschi, who was runner-up in Glasgow 2018, also smiled with the bronze medal around her neck.

“Since I’ve been preparing for the Sette Colli next week, I’m not in the best shape, so this a great to win a medal here, I’m quite happy with it.”