Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu cruised to victory in the women’s 200 metres individual medley at the European aquatics championships before anchoring her country’s relay to add two more golds to her already impressive medal haul on Thursday.
Qualifying fastest for the final despite her punishing schedule, Hosszu clocked two minutes 7.30 seconds to win her third gold and better her own championship record set in 2014 by nearly half a second. Great Britain’s Siobhan O’Connor claimed silver in 2:09.30, while her teammate Hannah Miley took bronze in 2:09.03.
Hosszu, who also holds the world record in what she has made her signature event, once again proved dominant from the outset as she increased her advantage over the field from 0.11 at the first turn to 1.73 seconds by the last, despite O’Connor’s last-ditch challenge on the freestyle leg.
Hosszu then later won her second gold of the evening when she contributed to Hungary’s victory in the women’s 4×200 metres freestyle relay alongside teammates Zsuzsanna Jakobos, Evelyn Verraszto and Boglarka Kaps, to successfully hold off Spain and the Netherlands and win in a time of seven minutes 51.63 seconds.
“My tactics were to go out as fast as possible but I knew that the end was going to hurt,” Hosszu told reporters following the conclusion of her final race, having previously been unavailable to answer questions owing to her busy programme. “This is by far my favourite medal in these Europeans.”
Murdoch Strikes Gold
Great Britain’s Ross Murdoch dug deep to win the men’s 200 metres breaststroke, the hosts’ third gold, after a thrilling battle with Germany’s world champion Marco Koch.
The 22-year-old Murdoch, who took the silver at the European championships in 2014, recorded a time of two minutes 8.33 seconds, only 0.07 seconds ahead of Koch who touched in 2:08.40, to upgrade the colour of his medal, as Italy’s Luca Pizzini claimed bronze in 2:10.39.
“I’m really enjoying this, to win my first European title, but at the same time I’m a bit frustrated as I didn’t make the Olympic team after coming third in this event at the trials,” Murdoch said. “In the last 10 metres I felt the pressure from Marco, I saw him from the corner of my eyes and I managed to withstand it.”
The entire race was a particularly close-contested affair, with Finland’s Matti Mattson happening to turn first at 100 metres in what essentially remained an even field for the much of its duration, until Murdoch and Koch edged ahead with a quarter of the distance remaining.
Koch, who sat in third at the last turn, very nearly caught Murdoch after finding a higher gear in the final few metres to produce the fastest final lap of any of the swimmers (32.50 seconds), but was ultimately pipped to the wall by Murdoch who had a stronger finish.
Elsewhere, Camille Lacourt of France continued his fine form by adding the men’s 50 metres backstroke gold to his 100 metres backstroke title won earlier in the week.
It proved to be a furious finish, and Lacourt made full use of his two-metre frame to out-touch the silver medalist Richard Bohus of Hungary in a time of 24.77 seconds. Bohus recorded 24.82, while Russia’s Grigory Tarasevich completed the podium by securing bronze in 24.86.