Europeans kicked off the party in open water swimming by sweeping the medals in the mixed relay with Germany coming out on top. Two medals were also bagged in the first diving event in the men’s 3m synchro final, by the British and the Germans.
Though the swimming meet came to an end on Saturday, but on Sunday many had the feeling at the Lupa Beach that it just continued in the same way, only a few kilometres away from the Duna Arena.
The heroes of the previous day’s 1500m free final, gold medallist Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) and third placed Florian Wellbrock (GER) went neck-by-neck in the anchor leg of the open water swimming relay. Joining them was Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) – so the medals were decided by the three giants of the discipline who had also stood on the podium at the Olympics after the 10km marathon.
Indeed, they reproduced the Tokyo rankings – after pushing each other all the way, Wellbrock managed to catch the moment when the other two were entangled to a minor tussle, switched gears and never looked back to land another world title for the Germans in this event.
The duel of Rasovszky and Paltrinieri went down to the touch, the Hungarian put his hand on the panel by a fraction of a second faster – in fact the timekeepers clocked identical times, so the gap was inside 0.1sec but the photo clearly declared Rasovszky’s silver.
All three were happy with the outcome. “We are really satisfied after this performance, we weren’t really counting on a medal today in this tough field” Wellbrock said. “We made an amazing job and I’ll enjoy the award ceremony. It was tough out there today, Krisóf (Rasovszky) is bigger than me, getting away from him wasn’t easy at all, but Gregorio distracted him a little bit I guess, so everything turned out well in the end.“
Rasovszky and his team-mates’ medal-winning performance made the beach rock, not only the fans on the tribunes but those spending their Sunday on the shores were jumping and roaring in the sand and on top of the giant slides as Rasovszky approached the finish.
“When you swim for a relay, there nothing like I give up, or I let it go, or to feel any pain – you must go all the way with full gear” Rasovszky said. “I could start first in the last takeover, at home, in front of a home crowd, so there was no other option than going ahead and keeping as much advantage as possible. I swam against the two best pool swimmers in the world – indeed, it’s almost impossible to be on level them in an 1500m lap, to erase 30sec which are between our pool PBs.
“I knew they would catch me up, I didn’t have daydreams that I could swim till the end alone in front. Still, it was them who had to catch me up and they had to swim a killing 1500m free final yesterday evening. I guess they were more tired than me, and at the end I could hold back at least one of them.”
Paltrinieri came from an ER-breaking swim in the pool, and in less than 16 hours he had to have another blast in the lake.
“I didn’t have much energy after yesterday’s 1500m free, and the temperature is quite hot here. It was very different race, and a very different 1500m, then in last night final in the pool. I had a great battle, and an exciting finish with Raso (Rasovszky), but today this was my best, it’s good start for the open water event, and it’s a valuable medal for the team.”
The diving event began the usual way, the Chinese bagged their first gold, in the men’s 3m synchro, but Jack Laugher and his new pair Anthony Harding got really close to them, trailed by only 8 points at the end.
“It was fantastic!” Laugher said. “It’s been a great competition and we were consistent throughout all the rounds. This has been Ant’s (Anthony) first competition, obviously he has been under pressure because of this. But everything was right, and we had a solid performance!”
And it turned out there was life in German male diving after the retirement of the legendary Patrick Hausding. The new duo of Timo Barthel and Lars Rudiger ended up in the third place.
“I think we exceeded all of our expectations” Rudiger said. “We knew that we were in good form and well prepared, but so were the other pairs as well. There have been lots of changes in the field and our goal was to be in the top 6. We have trained hard here in Budapest and were concentrating on synchronisation. We’ve given our best and we are really happy with this bronze medal!”
In water polo, all four European sides cleared the bar in the eight-finals. The Netherlands – European title-holders – faced the toughest challenge but with a perfect third period they tore the Canadians apart and won 10-7. The French found themselves in the middle of a dogfight but survived the game against New Zealand with a shootout win, to make the top eight at the World Championships for the first time.
The top two European teams from the Olympics, silver medallist Spain and third placed Hungary enjoyed easy cruises against Kazakhstan and Argentina respectively, so Europe’s presence is maximised in the quarter-finals, with six spots out of eight.