XVIII MEDITERRANEAN GAMES TARRAGONA 2018
Team Italy came out with guns blazing in day 1 of the 2018 Mediterranean Games. All told, the Italians captured 7 individual titles across the men’s and women’s events, giving them a clear lead in the overall swimming medal table with 2 days to go.
Among the winners tonight was 19-year-old Simona Quadarella who handily won the women’s 800m freestyle in a time of 8:21.44. This freestyle ace has been making a name for herself as of late, having won bronze in this event at last year’s European Short Course Championships, as well as bronze in the 1500m distance at the 2017 World Championships.
This year, Quadarella notched a new Italian national record in the short course version of the 1500m, clocking 15:47.33 an a domestic meet in January.
Quadarella’s 8:21.44 outing tonight easily overtakes her previous season-best of 8:25.82 set in Riccione in April and boosts the teen up to 6th in the world rankings. Also of significance is the fact that Quadarella beat home nation favorite Mireia Belmonte in tonight’s race. Belmonte, Spain’s flag bearer at these Games, settled for silver in 8:26.55, while Slovenia’s Tjasa Oder rounded out the top 3 in 8:28.91.
Belmonte was back in the pool for the final individual event of the evening, the women’s 400m IM, where the Spaniard was shut out of the hardware completely. Taking the gold tonight somewhat surprisingly was her teammate Catalina Corro Lorente, the 23-year-old who cranked out a time just shy of her personal best to wow the home crowd.
Lorente notched a winning effort of 4:39.42, a mark just .22 over her career fastest of 4:39.20 back from 2014 and over a second ahead of runner-up Anja Crevar of Serbia. Crevar touched tonight in 4:40.62 for silver, while Italy’s Carlotta Toni finished in 4:41.43 for bronze.
As for Belmonte, her time of 4:43.98 left her in 7th place and well off her mark of 4:37.10 performed in April at the Spanish Championships. That time remains as the 5th fastest effort of the season worldwide.
Elena Di Liddo was another Italian winner on the night, proving too fast for the women’s 100m fly field. Clocking 57.59, Di Liddo represented the only swimmer to delve into sub-58 second territory, with a fiery opening split of 27.22. That was enough to keep the necessary distance ahead of Egypt’s Farida Osman, who touched in 58.51 for silver. Greek swimmer Anna Ntountounaki was also under the 59-second threshold, capturing bronze in 58.78.
Di Liddo has been as fast as 57.75 at her national championships earlier this year, but her time tonight elevates her up a spot in the world rankings ahead of teammate and national record holder Iliaria Bianchi.
Powerhouses Piero Codia and Matteo Rivolta battled in the men’s 100m butterfly race, just as they did at the Italian National Championships this Spring. In that competition, Rivolta touched out his teammate by just .01, clocking 51.89 to Codia’s 51.90.
The roles were reversed in Tarragona, however, as Codia struck gold in 52.25. Rivolta was just .11 behind in 52.34 to make it a 1-2 Italian punch in the race. Cleaning up 3rd was Turkey’s national record holder Umitcan Gures, who earned bronze in a time just .33 over his own national mark. He touched in 52.53 tonight to step onto the podium.
- Serbia’s Velimir Stjepanovic took the men’s 200m freestyle gold in 1:47.13, followed by Italy’s Filippo Megli (1:48.02) and Egypt’s Marwan el Kamash (1:48.12).
- Italy racked up another gold in the form of Erika Ferraioli‘s win in the women’s 100m free. 54.91 got the job done for Ferraioli, while Spain’s Lidon Munoz del Campo and Slovenia’s Neza Klancar finished with times of 55.28 and 55.40 for respective silver and bronze.
- Simone Sabbioni and Niccolo Bonacchi made it a 1-2 Italian finish in the men’s 50m backstroke sprint. Sabbioni touched in 25.11 to Bonacchi’s 25.21, while Greece’s Apostolos Crhistou was 3rd in 25.35.
- The women’s edition of the 50m back saw Italy’s Silvia Scalia beat the field in 28.33. Spanish swimmer Duane Da Rocha was 2nd in 28.57, with Greece’s Theodora Drakaou just .04 shy of silver in 28.61.
- The men’s 200m breaststroke was won by Italy’s Luca Pizzini, who scored a winning effort of 2:09.91, well over 3 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Joan Ballester of Spain was next in 2:13.48, while his teammate Alex Castejon took the bronze in 2:13.91.
- Jessica Val of Spain earned gold for her nation in the women’s 200m breast, winning in 2:25.22 ahead of teammate Marina Garcia. Garcia touched in 2:25.39 for silver, while Turkey’s reigning world junior record holder in this event, Vicktoria Gunes earned bronze in 2:26.92.
- Greece earned its first gold in the form of Andreas Vazaios, who won the men’s 200m IM. His time of 1:59.40 was well off his own national record of 1:57.98 set at last year’s World Championships, but he did represent the only swimmer tonight to dip into sub-2 minute territory. Behind him was Spanish talent Hugo Gonzalez, who competes for Virginia Tech now stateside, who earned runner-up in 2:00.53. Portugal’s Alexis Santos was next in line for bronze in 2:00.83.
- The Italians finished first in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay in a collective time of 3:14.98, but were disqualified. Gold ultimately went to Serbia in 3:15.76. The women’s 4x200m freestyle went to Italy in 8:02.63.