No Olympic 200 Breast Bid For Efimova As Chikunova Wins; Russian 200IM Record For Zhilkin

Yulia Efimova; Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

Yulia Efimova will not be seeking her third straight Olympic 200m breaststroke medal after she was locked out of the top two at the Russian Swimming Championships in a race won by Evgeniya Chikunova in 2:21.63.

Andrey Zhilkin set a new Russian record of 1:57.50 in the men’s 200IM, Maria Kameneva went 53.56 to book a berth in the 100 free and Vladislav Grinev anchored a Moscow mixed medley quartet in 47.14.

Link to results


Evgenia Chikunova – Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

Chikunova, who had already booked a Tokyo ticket with victory over 100m, led the way into the final in 2:23.00.

The 16-year-old was third at halfway before moving through the field in 36.44 to lead at the final turn after which she produced the only sub-36 last 50 of 35.47 to stop the clock first.

Splits: 33.31/1:09.72/1:46.16/2:21.63

It was the fastest time so far this year displacing Molly Renshaw (2:22.08) at the top of the rankings but outside her Russian junior record of 2:21.07

Maria Temnikova claimed the second slot in 2:22.76 meaning there will be no Efimova in the event in Tokyo, the Rio 2016 silver medallist touching in 2:24.16 for third.

The three-time Olympic medallist was never in contention in the race.

Seventh at halfway, a 36.82 third 50 moved Efimova up to fourth but despite a last 50 of 36.62 – the second quickest in the field behind Chikunova – it was too much of a gap to make up on Temnikova and she finished 1.40secs adrift.

Efimova though will race over 100m having come second to Chikunova at trials.

Controversy And Spotlight Follows Efimova

Link to David Rieder’s in-depth look at Efimova in 2017

Controversy has followed the Russian for years. In 2013 she tested positive for 7-keto-DHEA during an out-of-competition doping test.

She was subsequently banned for 16 months although the timely end of her suspension enabled her to qualify for the Russian team for the 2015 World Championships that were being held in Kazan, Russia.

Efimova won gold in the 100br in Kazan – held in a temporary pool at Rubin Kazan’s football stadium – although she didn’t manage to negotiate her way out of the 200 heats.

In the midst of her final preparations for the Olympics in Rio, Efimova was suspended again – this time after meldonium was found in her system, the drug having recently been added to the WADA banned list.

Efimova insisted on her innocence and had her suspension lifted and was cleared to compete only for the McLaren report to be published with the swimmer subsequently barred from the Games once more.

She lost her initial appeal but had a last-minute reprieve during the Opening Ceremony.


Lilly King and Yulia Efimova: Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The Russian took silver behind Kanako Watanabe in the 200br, four years after winning bronze in London.

Then came Lilly King. After she finished ahead of Efimova for the top seed in both the prelims and semi-finals of the 100 breast, the two exchanged finger wags, and King made it known to the world that she thought she didn’t think Efimova belonged at the Olympic Games.

One day later, King won gold ahead of Efimova.

The United States swimmer slapped the water in Efimova’s lane but did not offer any congratulations.

Later that night, the two sat feet away from each other during an extremely awkward press conference and offered no apologies.

The fans in the stands had made their feelings known too, boos ringing down and the Russian in tears on poolside.

The years subsequent to Rio have seen her win 200 gold and 100 bronze at the 2017 worlds and in Gwangju two years later Efimova repeated her feat in the longer race while taking silver behind King over 100m.

National Record For Zhilkin

Ilya Borodin has commanded the IM spotlight in Russia in recent times with his WJR of 4:11.17 in the 400IM on the opening day of competition.

However, it was Zhilkin who took centre stage on Thursday, taking apart the record of 1:58.00 set by Borodin in the very same pool in October 2020.

Out in 25.00, Zhilkin – who swam in the prelims as Russia won 2018 European gold in the men’s 4×100 – reached halfway in 54.74, more than a second ahead of Borodin.

The 26-year-old extended his lead throughout and a final 50 of 28.49 – the swiftest in the field – saw him claim the record and a slot for Tokyo.

Splits: 25.00/54.74 (29.74)/1:29.01 (34.27)/1:57.50 (28.49)

It came hours after Daiya Seto and Kosuke Hagino went 1:57.41 and 1:57.43 respectively at the Japanese trials.

Borodin was 1.85secs adrift in 1:59.35, 0.32secs inside the cut.

Kameneva Books 100 Free Slot; Grinev Drops 47.14 Split

Kameneva split 25.96/27.60 to stop the clock at 53.56 although Arina Surkova was outside the cut in 54.41 as the next woman home.

The 21-year-old won nine medals – six of them gold – at the 2015 European Games in Baku and paid three trips to the podium as a member of Russian relay squads at the 2018 Europeans in Glasgow.

Thursday’s time was outside her Russian record of 53.45 set as she finished joint 10th with Siobhan Haughey at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju.


Vladislav Grinev: Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK

Kliment Kolesnikov continued the sort of form that has seen him rewrite the Russian record books to lead off a Moscow mixed medley quartet in 52.43.

At the start of the week that would have been a national record – 0.01secs inside Evgeny Rylov’s mark of 52.44 which he matched and subsequently lowered before the world silver medallist reclaimed it in 52.12.

Kolesnikov split 25.37/27.06 before handing over to Nika Godun (1:07.45) who passed the baton on to Svetlana Chimrova who swam a fly leg of 58.18.

Grinev took over for the final leg, splitting 22.17/24.97 for a split of 47.14 as the quartet clocked 3:45.20.

It came a day after Grinev was locked out of an individual 100 free berth as Kolesnikov went 47.31 for fifth all-time with world junior record-holder Andrei Minakov taking the second slot in 47.77.

World bronze medallist Grinev had started the race as Russian record holder with a best of 47.43 but his time of 47.89 saw him to third and no individual berth.

Instead he will look to book a place in the 50 free on Friday.

Vekovishchev Flies Into Final; Ustinova Books Lane Four

Mikhail Vekovishchev led the way into the 100 fly final in 51.40 ahead of Minakov, who won 2019 world silver aged 17, who clocked 51.86 after a 51.48 prelim.

Daria K. Ustinova is fastest into the women’s 200 back decider in 2:11.32.


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