VALENCIA, Spain. Dec. 17. Italy's Massi Rosolino won his fourth title, Martina Moravcova won her second and third, and Yana Klochkova won DM200,000 (US$90,400) on the final day of competition of the 2000 European Short Course Swimming Championships in Valencia, Spain.
Rosolino, 22, added the 200m freestyle to his collection of European titles, winning in 1:44.63. The Czech Republic's Kvetoslav Svoboda was the only swimmer to even challenge the Italian. Behind by a full second at the 100 and 150m marks, Svoboda put on a sprint on the final 50 meters to narrow the gap between himself and Rosolino, finishing in a strong 1:45.27. Rosolino, whose accomplishments are under a cloud of suspicion due to his having tested with human growth hormone levels fifteen times normal last June, finished the four-day meet with titles in the 200, 400 and 1500m freestyle and the 200m IM.
Moravcova, a graduate of Southern Methodist University who trains in Dallas, Texas, was a one-woman wrecking crew this evening, coming from half a second behind Sweden's Johanna Sjoberg at the 50 to win the 100m butterfly in European record time of 57.54 seconds–.01 under the European mark she set in Athens in March
–then returning 40 minutes later to win the 200m freestyle (1:56.51) for the fourth consecutive time. Sjoberg finished second in the fly (57.86) while Britain's Karen Pickering passed her countrywoman, Karen Legg, to take second in the double century (1:57.22 to Legg's 1:57.60). Moravcova left Valencia with three European titles.
Meanwhile, Double Olympic gold medalist Yana Klochkova of the Ukraine, went home with the most gold of all–200,000 German marks (about $90,400) for sweeping the 200IM at all four test meets established by the European Swimming League (LEN), winning the "Superstar 2000 Challenge," and for setting a world record (in Sydney) in the 400 IM while also sweeping that event at all four venues.
To earn her second DM100,000, all the 18 year-old Ukrainian had to do was retain her 400 IM title in Valencia. She responded in convincing fashion, whipping a strong field into submission. Only Germany's 17 year-old Annika Mehlhorn dared to challenge the Olympic champion, turning at the 100m mark in a virtual dead-heat with Klochkova, 1:02.43 to the champ's 1:02.40. From then on, the Ukrainian kept pulling away, eventually carving out a four-second victory over Mehlhorn with the rest of the field strung out well behind. Klochkova touched in 4:35.11 to the German's 4:39.02. Britain's Rachel Corner was third in 4:40.11.
Sweden finished atop the medal heap with 10 golds, as Olympic double silver medalist, Therese Alshammar, retained her second sprint freestyle crown, winning the 50 meters in 24.09 seconds and the Swedish men's 4x50m freestyle relay squad out-touched Germany to win in 1:27.52.
Two more European marks fell on the final night of competition, courtesy of France's Stephan Perrot and
Iceland's Orn Arnarson.
Perrot handed Olympic champion Domenico Fioravanti his first defeat of the championships when he took the 200m breaststroke in 2:07.58, with Fioravanti second in 2:08.76. The win gave france her only medal of the championship, but it was a big one, as it shaved .01 seconds from the European record set by Russia's Roman Sludnov in Athens in March.
Perrot jumped out to a huge lead, turning in 1:00.51 at the halfway mark, while none of the other finalists swam under 1:02. The Frenchman floundered coming home, but his lead was too large to overcome.
Arnarson, 19, who retained both his 100 and 200 backstroke titles in Valencia, languished in third at the 50, but turned on the jets in the back half of the race to win in 52.28, bettering the European record of 52.54 set by Germany's Stev Theloke in 1999. Croatia's Gordan Kozulj, the leader through 75 meters, was second in 52.57.
Thirty-year-old Polish veteran Alicja Peczak, who sat out two years after testing positive for steroids in 1993, denied Sweden's Emma Igelstrom a breaststroke hat trick, when she took the 100 meters in 1:06.95, a championship record. The Swede, who earlier had won both the 50 and 200 meters, was second in 1:07.14.
After the race, Peczak said she wwas planning on retiring from competition.
Great Britain, which wound up the championships with 19 medals–more than any other country–finally struck gold on the final night. In fact, Brits won two events, as Joanna Fargus and Mark Foster did their bits for queen and country.
Fargus led from the start in the women's 200m backstroke, touching home in 2:08.19, nearly a second ahead of Russian-turned-Spaniard, Nina Zhivanevskaya.
Foster, better known as a freestyler ssprinter than a flyer, took the 50m butterfly in 23.31 seconds, just .01 slower than the European record set by Milos Milosevic in 1998. He last won a European title in this event in 1996. Foster, who lost his crown in the 50 free to Sweden's Stefan Nystrand, was never seriously challenged in the fly, as Finland's Jere Hard was well back in 23.48.
The final medal count:
G S B Total
Sweden 10 4 2 16
Italy 7 1 1 9
Germany 5 5 2 12
Czech Republic 3 3 3 9
Slovakia 3 0 1 4
Britain 2 7 10 19
Ukraine 2 1 2 5
Iceland 2 1 0 3
Russia 1 3 1 5
Croatia 1 2 1 4
Poland 1 2 1 4
Slovenia 1 0 3 4
Switzerland 1 0 1 2
France 1 0 0 1
Spain 0 4 2 6
Denmark 0 2 1 3
Estonia 0 1 0 1
Finland 0 1 0 1
Norway 0 0 3 3
Austria 0 0 1 1
Israel 0 0 1 1
Lithuania 0 0 1 1