European Championships: Louise Hansson Shows Another Swede Can Be Golden In the 100 Butterfly

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European Championships: Louise Hansson Shows Another Swede Can Be Golden In the 100 Butterfly

When the topic of Swedish standouts in the 100-meter butterfly arises, there is no doubt where the conversation leads. Discussion always starts with Sarah Sjostrom and her status as the world-record holder in the event, as the 2016 Olympic champion from Rio de Janeiro.

Yet, Louise Hansson wants to be part of the chat, too.

A former NCAA star from the University of Southern California, Hansson rallied down the last length and captured the gold medal in the 100 fly at the European Championships on Monday night. The Swede registered a time of 56.66, which enabled her to edge France’s Marie Wattel (56.80). Grabbing the bronze medal was Bosnia’s Lana Pudar, who touched the wall in 57.27.

Hansson entered the final as the second seed, but with Wattel the only sub-57 performer during the semifinals, the Frenchwoman was tabbed as the favorite. At the turn, Wattel held a slight advantage, 26.55 to 26.59, but a charge over the closing meters turned the outcome in favor of Hansson, who closed with a split of 30.07.

The effort marks Hansson’s second consecutive podium finish in the event at the European Championships, as she was the bronze medalist at last year’s edition. More, the title complements the short-course success she enjoyed at USC, where she was an NCAA champion in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly.

“I’m really pleased with this result,” Hansson said. “It was a huge race. Everything went as we had planned with my coach and I’m so glad that I could deliver. This is my first individual gold, so I’m really happy to go home with this gold in my bag as I think the whole country will be proud of me.”

Wattel continued her run of success, as she followed up her silver medal from the World Championships with another podium finish in international waters. She has undoubtedly emerged as one of France’s most-consistent performers, an athlete who routinely brings her best in the freestyle and butterfly disciplines. The key will be maintaining that momentum for the next two years, as the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris approach. Unquestionably, Wattel would love to make her first Olympic podium on home soil.

Missing from the event in Rome was Sjostrom, who decided to focus on the sprint events this week. While she indicated that a return to the 100 freestyle is in her plans moving forward, she has been mum about the 100 butterfly and whether it will once again find a place in her program.

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