SEVILLE, Spain, – 1992 Olympic champion Dagmar Hase ended Michelle de Bruin’s dream of five gold medals at the European Championships on Thursday when she beat de Bruin in the women’s 400m freestyle.
De Bruin, who won the 400 IM on Tuesday and the 200m freestyle on Wednesday, looked set to claim a third gold when she led from the first length through to the last. But Hase surged through to win in 4:09.58. De Bruin, who competed under her maiden name of Smith in Atlanta, had to settle for silver in 4:10.50. German Kerstin Kielgass, who lost her 200m freestyle title to De Bruin on Wednesday, took the bronze in 4:10.89.
Alexander Popov, stabbed in the stomach on a Moscow street a year ago, celebrated a triumphant return to elite competition with an impressive victory in the men’s 100m freestyle. It was his fourth consecutive European title in the event since he won his first major international title in Athens in 1991.
Popov, who achieved the unprecedented double-double of Olympic 50 and 100 freestyle golds in Barcelona and Atlanta, asserted his authority in the men’s 100m freestyle by winning in a championship record time of 49.09. Sweden’s Lars Frolander, who dethroned Denis Pankratov in Wednesday’s 100m butterfly took the silver in 49.51.
Vladimir Selkov made the first successful title defense of the championships when he claimed the men’s 200m backstroke title for the third time in as many tries.