Sun, Aug 06, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Italy's Magnini retains 100m freestyle title

AP , BUDAPEST

Roman Volodkov, left, and Anton Zakharov of Ukraine perform in the preliminary round of the men's 10m synchro platform diving at the 28th European Swimming Championships in Budapest yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Filippo Magnini of Italy won the gold medal on Friday in the men's 100m freestyle at the European Swimming Championships.

Magnini's time of 48.79 seconds allowed him to retain his European title. He is also the reigning world champion in the event.

Stefan Nystrand of Sweden was second in 48.91, while Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands took the bronze in 48.94.

In other finals, Yury Prilukov of Russia won the 1,500m freestyle, his second gold of the championships. In women's races, Inge Dekker of Germany took the 100m butterfly, while Kirsty Balfour of Britain won the 200m breaststroke.

In the diving events, Anett Gamm and Nora Subschinski of Germany won the women's 10m platform synchro with 325.92 points, while Dmitry Sautri of Russia won gold in the men's 3m springboard with 496.10 points.

Like at the 2004 Europeans in Madrid, Magnini again managed to defeat Van den Hoogenband, who was making his return to major competition after undergoing a hernia operation last year.

Still, the Dutchman -- the world record-holder in the event since the 2000 Sydney Olympics -- was happy with his result.

Van den Hoogenband said he planned to continue his comeback.

"Now I can start building up and maybe I can break 48 seconds in the next year," the three-time Olympic champion said. "I'm back at world level."

With his victory, Magnini backed up comments made upon his arrival in Budapest, when he said he felt confident and relaxed and it was his competitors who needed to worry about him.

"My time was not so good, but the important thing is I won the medal as I did in 2004 in Madrid," Magnini said.

His winning time was 0.67 seconds off his personal best of 48.12. Van den Hoogenband's world record is 47.84.

In the 1,500m freestyle, Prilukov -- winner Monday of the 400m freestyle -- took over the lead from Sebastien Rouault of France at the 450 mark, them steadily built up a slight lead which never really was challenged.

Rouault took silver, 3.80 seconds behind Prilukov, and Nicolas Rostoucher of France was third, 9.89 seconds behind the winner.

In the women's 200m breaststroke, Balfour won her first major title in international competition, beating Yuliya Pidlisna of Ukraine and Agnes Kovacs of Hungary, the 2000 Olympic champion and European record holder in the event.

"I had the European record on my mind, but now I'm pleased with my time," said Balfour, who swam 2:25.76, compared with Kovacs' continental mark of 2:24.03.

In the 100m butterfly, Dekker swam the first length of the pool at world record pace, but a relatively slow 31.68 in the second lap dashed her chances of setting what would have been the fourth world mark set at these championships.

"This is my first really big success," Dekker said. "When I didn't see anybody else beside me at 90 meters, I knew I had done it."

In Friday's semifinals, Laure Manaudou of France -- already a winner of three gold medals and a bronze this week -- had the fastest time in the women's 200m freestyle, followed by Annika Liebs of Germany and Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland.

After 40 events, Germany and Russia lead the medals table with 10 golds each, followed France with five and Italy and Ukraine each with three.

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