European Championships: Sarah Sjostrom Likes To Spring A Surprise & Katinka Hosszu Eyes 100 International Medals

Sarah Sjostrom Federico Burdisso

European Championships: Sarah Sjostrom Likes To Spring A Surprise & Katinka Hosszu Eyes 100 International Medals

Sarah Sjostrom debuted her new purple-pink hair and Katinka Hosszu set her sights on 100 international medals at the opening press conference of the European Championships in Rome.

Sjostrom and Hosszu – who both won their maiden world titles in 2009 at the Foro Italico – were joined at the Salla Rosa by double Olympic bronze medallist Federico Burdisso, Ukrainian artistic swimmer Marta Fiedina and diver Chiara Pellacani.

LEN president Antonio Silva welcomed the first outdoor event to be held since the Europeans on  Margaret Island, Budapest, in 2010 and the first continental long-course showcase with spectators since Glasgow 2018.

He told reporters:

“(I) will cheer the success of this event. It is a great honour as president of LEN to be with you today.”

There will be 231 medals awarded across all disciplines with 557 swimmers from 46 LEN federations competing with men’s solo event in the artistic swimming to be contested for the first time.

Sjostrom will compete in the 50 free and 50 fly plus relays having contracted Covid-19 immediately after the World Championships in Budapest where she won gold in both of the one-length races.

The Swede, who intends to continue competing in the 100 free with Paris 2024 just two years hence, was 15 when she won her first global title at the super-suited worlds at the same Foro Italico where she’ll step out 13 years later as a quadruple Olympic medallist and 10-time world champion.

She said:

“When I came to Rome in 2009 I surprised everyone…..I think it won’t be such a surprise if I won this time.

“It’s a light programme for me. I got covid straight after worlds and I’m not used to having two major competitions in one season.”

As for her new hair colour, Sjostrom added:

” I like to surprise people when I take my swimming cap off: so many Swedish girls have blonde hair so I like to surprise people.”

Hosszu won gold among three medals in 2009 and now has 96 international major medals to her name.

She said:

“I think it would be something special to get 100 medals; nobody has done that yet so that would be something exciting.”

As for those tough events she always undertakes, the Hungarian added:

“If I could swim the 50 I would swim the 50! The way I was born…..the best events for me are the medley and 200 fly.”

Fiedina, who had a yellow croc on one foot and blue on the other, has been living and training in Italy following the Russian invasion of Ukraine which also means there will be no competitors or officials from the former.

She said:

“We have a big motivation for our country.

“To show strong people with strong spirit…..our beautiful country.”

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