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Cseh, Pellegrini golden at Europeans
 


AFP

London

Laszlo Cseh clinched his 14th European gold and first international 100m butterfly title as Federica Pellegrini powered to a fourth straight 200m freestyle crown at the European Championships on Saturday.

Cseh's time of 50.86secs propelled him to the top of the rankings as he became the only man inside 51 seconds this year and booked a possible showdown with Michael Phelps and Chad Le Clos - Olympic and world champions respectively - in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

"It was a good swim but I feel I have much more in for Rio in this event as well,"warned Cseh.

The Hungarian was the most decorated swimmer in individual events in European history coming into the meet ahead of 10-time champion Alex Popov, the Russian former freestyle great, and Ukrainian medley great Yana Klochkova but now Cseh pulls ever further away from such luminaries.

Other winners on the penultimate night at the London Aquatics Centre included Italy's Pellegrini, who won her fourth consecutive 200m freestyle title by a fingertip from Femke Heemskerk, Hungary's Boglarka Kapas completed the distance freestyle double with an emphatic victory in the 1500m and Poland's Radoslaw Kawecki won his third successive 200m backstroke gold.

Britain's Adam Peaty added the 50m breaststroke title to his 100m gold, repeating the double feat of Berlin two years ago.

Cseh had already produced a stunning performance in the 200m where he became the second fastest man in history in a textile suit, splitting 18-time Olympic champion Phelps and his 2012 conqueror Chad Le Clos.

In a long-course career dating back to 2004, the 30-year-old had collected five Olympic, 12 world and 21 European medals but no 100 butterfly golds.

Second behind Le Clos in the last two World Championships, Cseh had also picked up two straight European silver medals.

On Saturday, he was third at halfway, but his second 50m was more than half a second quicker than any of his rivals and he closed out the double ahead of Konrad Czerniak of Poland and Frenchman Mehdy Metella. Pellegrini reeled in Dutchwoman Heemskerk on the final stroke to retain her 200m freestyle title.

Pellegrini introduced herself on the international stage at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, winning 200m silver nine days after turning 16.

Since then there have been trips to the podium at six consecutive World Championships - including two to the top step - before Olympic silver from 2004 was upgraded to gold four years later. Heemskerk led from the outset but she could not shake Pellegrini, who sat on the Dutchwoman's shoulder before coming at her down the final length. Heemskerk was ahead going into that last stroke only for Pellegrini to out-touch her by a fingertip in 1:55.93, 0.04secs ahead.

The Italian said:"To be honest, I'm a little bit surprised at how things went today. I had a tough preparation before in a training camp and I didn't expect this result at all."

Heemskerk said:"I'm very disappointed about the 0.04sec margin. It's not the first time I've lost to Federica in a close race."Shortly before the race my suit tore but I stayed positive and cool."


 
 

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