European Championships, Day 7 Finals: Kristof Milak Goes 50.18 For 100 Fly Gold; Liukkonen Wins 50 Free

Kristof Milak 2021 European Championships
Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Kristof Milak set a championship 100 fly record of 50.18 to go fourth all-time as he won his second title of the week in the final session of the European Championships in Budapest.

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen of Finland won the men’s 50 free ahead of defending champion Ben Proud with Kristian Gkolomeev third.

Ranomi Kromowidjojo added the 50 fly title to her 50 free gold ahead of Melanie Henique and Emilie Beckmann.

Benedetta Pilato, who set a world record of 29.30 in the semis, won the 50 breaststroke with Ida Hulkko claiming Finland’s second medal in as many races in second and Yulia Efimova in third.

Milak Flying High

The Hungarian, who swam the second-fastest 200 fly in history of 1:51.10 en-route to gold on  Wednesday, set a championship record of 50.62 in Saturday’s semis despite misjudging his finish.

The world silver medallist was out in 23.58 and back in 26.60 to take first ahead of 17-year-old Josif Miladinov who set a Bulgarian record of 50.93 with Britain’s James Guy replicating his bronze medal from Glasgow 2018 in 50.99.

It was a national record for Milak who lowered his previous mark of 50.47 from Hungarian Nationals in March and propelled him to fourth-fastest performer behind Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic and leapfrogging 2016 Olympic champion Joe Schooling in the process.

The European record of 49.95 has stood to Cavic since the 2009 World Championships when the Serbian finished second behind Phelps whose world record of 49.82 lasted until July 2019 when Dressel went 49.50.

Milak said:

“I never mention times beforehand, now I can tell I was hoping for something similar, between 50.2-50.4, I knew I was capable of that now so this Championship record is pretty fine for today.

“I managed to take on the guys in Europe, now there is one more whom I have to clash with in the summer.

“This is what I’m preparing for and I hope I will be in competition mood in Tokyo since today I didn’t feel any excitement, which you supposed to have at a European Championships.

“But no, my mood was like as if this were our nationals, if at all.

“Maybe I’ve got a bit tired by the end of the week, mostly mentally because of being locked down for so long.

“Though it also prepares me what we can expect at the Olympics, so I’m fine, ready to go all the way.”

Miladinov, who turns 18 next month, was delighted, saying:

“This is my first European Championships over long-course so this medal just feels great.

“t’s also an amazing feeling to swim with such an amazing group of guys like Kristof Milak.

“I’m only 17 so it’s just a really nice experience for me. I’m really thankful to be here.”

Guy, who returned to the pool to win gold with the British men’s medley relay, said:

“It’s been a long and exhausting week.

“Today I had a good swim. The race went pretty much as yesterday.

“This is a great start off for Tokyo. I’m happy to go under 51 again after four years.

“It shows you have to keep going and never give up.

“There’s a saying – ‘form is temporary, the class is permanent’.”

Two Medals In Two Races For Finland

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen 2021 European Championships

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Liukkonen won the 50 free in 21.61 ahead of defending champion Proud who clocked 21.69 with Gkolomeev of Greece third in 21.73.

Thom de Boer of the Netherlands was fourth (21.80), 0.01 ahead of 2012 Olympic champion Florent Manaudou who clocked 21.81.

Liukkonen was almost – but not quite – lost for words, saying:

“I feel really good, I don’t think I have any words now.

“I thought I could win this, but I’m pretty exhausted. I wanted to go between 21.4 and 21.2: it’s my first title so I’m happy.”

Proud said:

“In the end, it was the little details which decided the race. I’m not fresh and this is not my best time.

“We’ve been training hard, maybe I’m not ready as have to be to do more but it’s great to be part of this family of champions. I

“’ve been racing against them for what seems a lifetime now so I’m happy and satisfied.”

Gkolomeev added:

“It was a nice race, I’m happy with the medal and with my time. I expected this and this race showed that I was in a good shape and I’m on a good way in my preparations for the Olympics.”

In the next race, Pilato was on her own record pace until the final couple of metres as she won European gold in 29.35, which was 0.05 inside the previous global mark set by Lilly King in the same Duna Arena pool at the 2017 worlds.

Liukkonen’s Finnish team-mate Hulkko took silver in 30.19 with defending champion Yulia Efimova in the bronze-medal position in 30.22, 0.01 ahead of Britain’s Sarah Vasey in fourth.

Benedetta Pilato 2021 European Championships

Benedetta Pilato: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

At 16 Pilato is already accustomed to success on the senior stage having won world silver in 2019 and she said:

“I’m so emotional now and trying to catch my breath.

“I’m so happy and satisfied, this medal is what I was hoping for since yesterday. I

“had expected it but then you never know because this is my first senior Europeans.

“But it’s a gold, a first one, at my first European Championships so I’m really happy now.

“This gold medal was on my focus since yesterday and I’m happy with my time too as it’s better than the previous world record.”

Hulkko beamed:

“This is incredible. I never thought I could win a medal here. I don’t really know how was the race but I guess it was really good…”

Kromowidjojo Seals Gold Once More

Kromowidjojo won the 50 fly title in 25.30, going stroke-for-stroke with Henique with the Netherlands swimmer’s power, efficiency and length propelling her to victory 0.16 ahead of the Frenchwoman who touched in 25.46.

Beckmann of Denmark was third in 25.59.

Kromowidjojo heads to her fourth Games at the age of 30 with three Olympic titles and one silver medal to her name.

Of the race, she said:

“It’s good. It’s not my best time but I won the gold.

“It was a tough race with Melanie and the other girls, but it’s great, always nice to win a gold. I’m satisfied.”

Henique said:

“I’m so tired right now… It wasn’t a perfect 50m, so it’s too bad… I feel like I could have won this but there are many small details I have to improve.

“It didn’t happen tonight but it can in the future.”

Beckmann added:

“I am really, really happy because I didn’t expect this medal.

“It was a tough field and you have to be ready for that so I’m proud to finish in the top three.”

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