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Italy Highlights Third Day of European Junior Championships -- July 9, 2006

By Oene Rusticus

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain, July 8. IS it a prelude to the FIFA World Cup or just coincidence that the Italians keep their winning mood in the pool of Palma de Mallorca? Again during the third day of the European Junior Championships, the Italians expanded their collection of gold medals with two more victories.

The 200 butterfly was a race with big differences in technique and race strategy. Spain’s Pablo Ordonez turned first at the 50-meter mark, but Joseph Natullo from Italy took over the lead until the last length. The gold medal winner in the 400 IM, Gergo Kis moved up in the last length, but he fell .12 short of Natullo (1:58.53 to 1.58:68). Hungary’s Norbert Kovacs won the battle for bronze over Ordonez (2.00.20 to 2.00.58).

The 50 breaststroke was a race for specialists, with only small differences between the swimmers. Italy’s Mattia Pesce won the race at the finish by .06 over Damir Dugonjic of Slovenia (28.59 to 28.65). Aurimas Valaitis from Lithuania also swam under 29 seconds, with an effort of 28.98.

Halfway through the 1,500 freestyle, five swimmers were still in the race for gold. But from that moment, Russia’s Nikita Lobintsev moved forward and led the field. He made an attempt to break the championship record, but missed by a mere .11 in 15:06.15. Federico Colbertaldo placed second (15:10.82), ahead of Maciej Hreniak from Poland who finished third in 15:11.93.

Christin Zenner from Germany won the women’s 50 backstroke, finishing in 29.38, just .04 above the championship record of Stanislava Komarova, set in 2002. Second place went to Russia’s Anastasia Zueva, the winner of the 100 backstroke, ahead of Hungary’s Helga Kalicz (29.60 to 29.87).

Poland’s Joanna Budzis lead the field from the start of the 400 freestyle, but after the last turn Aurélie Muller came up. The French swimmer passed Budzis in the last few meters and finished first in 4:15.72 to 4:16.00. Giulia Bolgiani also moved in the last 50, but fell .03 short to pass Budzis in the battle for silver.

The women’s 400 freestyle relay was the last event on the third day of the European Junior Championships. In the final, Holland’s Ranomi Kromowidjojo took the lead with a split of 56.61. Sweden then took over the first position with its second and third swimmers, but in the end it was Britain’s Francesca Halsall who brought her country home in first in a time of 3:47.89. Germany and Russia also passed the Swedes, but the battle for silver was undecided at the finish when both teams finished in 3:49.23, leaving Sweden in fourth position.



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