Belgrade 2024: Vasiliki Alexandri and Dennis Gonzalez Boneu Dominate Solo Technical Finals

Published On: June 11, 2024

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

By Christina Marmet

Artistic swimming was once again the centre of attention during the second day of competition at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024.

Two more sets of medals were awarded in the Women and Men Solo Technical Finals.

On the women’s side, it seems good things come in threes – all three of today’s medallists found themselves on the podium, in this exact order, for the third time already this season.

Vasiliki Alexandri of Austria became the new European champion in the Solo Technical with a score of 260.5967 for her “Road to Success” routine. With neither the reigning European Champion nor the silver medallist competing in Belgrade, the Austrian came in as the heavy favourite and she certainly delivered.

The 26-year-old won bronze at Roma 2022 and had placed sixth at the World Championships in Doha in February.

Alexandri has only been working on this routine for a few weeks, but it had already helped her to gold at the Paris World Cup at the beginning of May.

“One of the goals that I had in my sports career came true today,” she said. “I am very happy and relieved, especially after Doha.

Now, it’s a sweet moment that makes it a little bit better. “It’s also the first European gold for Austria in the solo, so I am really happy that, along with my sisters, we write history for the country. We are proud.”

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

Coming into her fifth European Championships, Alexandri had to overcome the disappointment of being in Belgrade without her sisters, Anna-Maria and Eirini-Marina, who withdrew because of illness. The triplets are most often always together, and Vasiliki admitted it has been challenging for her to be by herself in this competition.

“I almost reacted worse than both of them after they had to withdraw,” she continued. “It was really difficult mentally to not have them here with me. I’m a little bit sad that they are not here so we could celebrate this moment together. But immediately, I called them on the phone, and also our mother is here in the stands so I can share this special moment with her.”

Klara Bleyer of Germany won silver with a total of 242.9617. This is the first medal in solo for unified Germany – Gudrun Hänisch claimed bronze back in 1983 while representing West Germany.

The 20-year-old and reigning European Junior champion placed fifth at the World Championships and has made a push since to focus more on artistry. She notably worked extensively on this new “Spain” choreography routine with Olympic, World and European medallist Ona Carbonell, and it certainly paid off.

“This medal means a lot to me,” she said. “A few years ago, if someone had told me this, I’d have been like, ‘are you kidding me?’

After the World Championships and the World Cup, I had hopes, but anything can happen now. So, being on a podium at a European Championships is just amazing. I hope that, this way, I can show my country that it’s possible and that artistic swimming will get more in the public eye.”

Credit to: Aniko Kovacs, European Aquatics

With a total of 240.4816, Marloes Steenbeek won the bronze medal, bringing the Netherlands its first solo medal in 43 years with her routine set to “Hier Ben Ik” by Lois Sterre (a cover of “Voilà” by Barbara Pravi).

The 19-year-old only started competing solo internationally this year, after performing in duet for the previous two seasons. She placed 10th at the Doha World Championships, and most recently won bronze at the Paris World Cup.

“I feel very happy and very proud,” she said. “My coach was also very proud, so it’s all positives. It’s very nice to do this for my country, and I hope that artistic swimming will be more recognized in the Netherlands.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Appearing on the European Championships programme for only the second time, the Men Solo Technical was won by Dennis Gonzalez Boneu of Spain. Swimming to the song “Kiss” by Prince, the Spaniard secured the gold with a score of 225.8466.

The 20-year-old was particularly pleased as he had to miss a handful of competitions and a lot of training time over the last few months.

“I dreamed of this, also because I was fourth in the last World Championships”, he said. “I fought for a long time. In Doha, I had some pains in my arms and I couldn’t do my best difficulty, or really enjoy the routine.

“I had surgery after that, and last weekend in Markham for the World Cup was my first competition since. We go step by step, add difficulty for every meet, so I was very happy and proud when I saw the score today.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Ranjuo Tomblin of Great Britain secured silver with 204.4466 for his “Greatest Show” routine.

Much like Gonzalez Boneu, Tomblin has been slightly held back from competitions this season due to injury. In Belgrade, the 18-year-old managed a clean and precise performance, which was more than enough to clinch Great Britain’s first medal in this event.

“I can’t breathe, I am shaking,” he said. “I’m just so happy, and also to be able to swim a routine with no basemark.

“I had quite a bad back injury at the beginning of the season that took me out for a couple of months, so I haven’t really had time to train as much as I want to. I’m just so happy, I can’t even describe it.”

Credit to: European Aquatics

Reigning European champion and World silver medallist Giorgio Minisini of Italy won the bronze with a score of 185.9800.

The Italian had declared the highest Degree of Difficulty of the final at 32.10, but unfortunately received two basemarks and was only credited with 15.20. His strong artistic impression on his performance to “Still loving you” by Scorpions thankfully helped him to a spot on the podium.

In the morning, 10 pairs had taken to the pool to compete in the Duet Free Preliminary round, and all will advance to the final. Despite the adverse weather delay, every duet ultimately got a chance to perform in front of the judges and get some feedback before tomorrow’s final.

World silver medallists Bregje and Noortje de Brouwer of the Netherlandsqualified to the final in first position with their “Van Gogh” routine and a score of 259.0126. Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe of Great Britain, reigning World and European bronze medallists, placed second with 253.9750, while the duet of Israel made of Shelly Bobritsky and Ariel Nassee lies in third totaling 238.0645.

The final will feature duets from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Türkiye and Slovenia.