Swimming: British women dominate but France top table
Great Britain added a further two golds to their collection on the final day of competition in Budapest, with Rebecca Adlington ending a tough week on a high note.
Having gone in to these European Championships with low expectations, Great Britain would not have been expecting the record medal haul they eventually came away with. 18 medals, including six golds, was a great reward for a team whose main aim this year is the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
On the final day of competition Fran Halsall got Britain off to a great start with her fourth medal of the week, a bronze in the 50m freestyle.
The next medal followed soon after as Kate Haywood achieved a lifetime best 31.12 in the 50m breastroke, to claim silver behind the untouchable Yuliya Efimova. Ellen Gandy provided Britain’s next podium with bronze medal in the 200m butterfly, achieved on her nineteenth birthday.
It was then up to Adlington to put an end to a week of competition where she has seemed a shadow of the effervescent star who won two golds in Beijing two years ago. However, in the 400m freestyle, with world record holder Federica Pellegrini withdrawing due to illness, the 21-year-old from Mansfield was strong favourite.
In a perfectly judged race she managed to reel in France’s Ophelie Cyriell Etienne in the final two lengths to take the gold in an impressive 4.04.55.
Britain’s final gold of the championships came in the 4x100m medley relay, but only after Russia had been disqualified, having originally claimed the gold.
Gemma Spofforth led Britain out in impressive style, only for Haywood to be overhauled by Efimova. However the Russian star had left the blocks a little early and as a result, Halsall and Amy Smith were able to bring Britain home in what turned out to be first place.
Elsewhere on the final day, the hosts Hungary picked up two golds thanks to Katina Hosszu on the 200m butterfly, and local hero Laszlo Cseh in the 400 IM. Theresa Alshammer added another gold medal to her collection with the 50m freestyle, and in the men’s equivalent, Frederic Bousquet won comfortably from veteran Stefan Nystrand.
In the final event of the championships, it was fitting that France took gold, their eighth of the championships, and bringing them up to a record haul of 21 medals. Camille Lacourt got them off to a flying start in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, and Hugues Duboscq, Bousquet and Gilot saw them home by two seconds from the Russians.
If Britain dominated the women’s events, there can be no disputing that the French men’s team is a force to be reckoned with. Only Paul Biedermann could stop their clean sweep of the individual freestyle events, and in Lacourt, they have the swimmer of the championships after his scintilating performances over 50m and 100m backstroke.