European Championships: Mykhailo Romanchuk Dedicates 1500 Free Win To Father On Return From War In Eastern Ukraine

Mykhailo Romanchuk Rome (2)
Mykhailo Romanchuk: Photo Courtesy: LEN

European Championships: Mykhailo Romanchuk Goes 14:36.10 To Defend 1500 Free Title; Dedicates Win To Father On Return From War In Eastern Ukraine

Mykhailo Romanchuk went 14:36.10 to win a second straight 1500 free title at the European Championships in Rome and dedicated victory to his father who has returned from fighting against Russia in Eastern Ukraine.

It was a national record for the Ukrainian who sat on the lane rope, absorbing a rousing reception from the Foro Italico crowd and beating his heart with his hand.

The 26-year-old told Swimming World:

“It’s for my country; it’s my land, it’s my home and I give everything for my country.”

Gregorio Paltrinieri repeated his second place at the previous Europeans in 14:39.79 with Damien Joly of France third in 14:50.86.

There was more emotion on the podium as the big screen beamed pictures of a tearful Romanchuk to the crowd who rose as one, cheering the Ukrainian.

The tears were for his father who had returned home after fighting the Russians in Eastern Ukraine following their invasion in February.

Romanchuk told Swimming World:

“I was thinking about my father that he’s back home now and this win is for him, for all the Ukrainians, for the army who is defending our country.

“Now the rotation has started and he is back three days ago so it is a really emotional time.

“My mind now is much more relaxed so I know that my father is safe, that he is at home and for me it’s a little bit easier.

“But the war is not finished so of course I am still reading the news about Ukraine, the army, about everything.

“So it is a mixture of emotions but I am happy that my family now is together which for me is the main thing.”

For months Romanchuk has lived with his father being on the frontline.

“I was talking with him once a day (when he was fighting): sometimes when he didn’t contact me in the morning it was really so stressful because I didn’t know what happened that night and sometimes it was really so hard.”

Does he fear the war in Ukraine is slipping down the news agenda in Europe?

The four-time world medallist said:

“Sometimes they forget the war is still going on.

“But the war is still there in our home and our land and we will fight; we are fighting, we will fight to the end and we will win for sure. It will be a long war but we will win for sure.”

Romanchuk Cancels Out Speedy Paltrinieri Break

ROMANCHUK Mykhailo UKR Bronze Medal 800m Freestyle Men Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 21/06/22 Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Mykhailo Romanchuk: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Paltrinieri went out fast as he did at the World Championships in Budapest where he went on to win from lane one, shocking Olympic champion Bobby Finke.

The Italian already had clear water by the 250m mark only for Romanchuk to gradually eat into the deficit which was only 0.15 by 500m.

The Ukrainian extended his lead thereafter and despite the best efforts of the crowds with their chants of ‘Gregorio,’ it was Romanchuk who came home.

The Olympic silver medallist moved from his native Ukraine to train with Olympic 10k champion Florian Wellbrock and Bernd Berkhahn‘s group in Magdeburg following the invasion by Russia.

Romanchuk issued a passionate, forthright plea to the authorities to maintain the ban on Russia during the World Championships with his father fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

On Tuesday, he said:

“These are hard times for me, especially mentally. After the World Championships I was in a really bad mood and I needed to find a new motivation for me.

“These European Championships are so emotional: after the 800m free I was mad at myself because I screwed up the entire race, but somehow I managed to get back from there and get into great shape for this final.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere here, it gave me a lot of power and really felt I could swim better and better as I felt I was faster than Greg and I could beat him in front the home crowd.

“Today I was faster than him, next time he can be faster than me, it’s like a ping-pong match between us.

“Massive thanks go for the German team as they gave me the opportunity for the preparations and for the Ukrainians who supported me.”

Screenshot 2022-08-16 18.31.45 (2)

Results

  1. Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR); 14:36.10
  2. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA); 14:39.79
  3. Damien Joly (FRA); 14:50.86
  4. Domenico Acerenza (ITA); 14:56.15
  5. Florian Wellbrock (GER); 15:02.51
  6. Carlos Garach Benito (ESP); 15:05.11
  7. Henrik Christiansen (NOR); 15:07.98
  8. Oliver Klemet (GER); 15:10.57

For full splits, click here

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