Toumarkin comes up short of podium

Former Israeli medalist finishes 6th, Cheruti 8th ; Nevo, Murez in Euro finals for blue-and-white

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May 18, 2016 01:29
3 minute read.
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Gal Nevo became the latest Israeli to fail to reach a final at the European Swimming Championships yesterday, ending the 400-meter individual medley in 10th place in Berlin. (. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel’s Yakov Toumarkin missed out on a medal at the European Swimming Championships in London by 17 hundredths of a second on Tuesday, finishing the 100-meter backstroke final in sixth place in a time of 54.36 seconds.

Had the two-time European bronze medalist from four years ago repeated his time from Monday’s semis (54.18s), he would have finished in third place. Had he equaled his national record (53.77s) from last summer’s World Championships, he would have won the gold.

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Despite having to settle for sixth, Toumarkin will be encouraged by his performance in the 100m back ahead of his main discipline, the 200m back, the heats for which will take place on Friday.

Toumarkin was scheduled to also compete in the 200m individual medley heats on Tuesday, but chose to skip the event, something he will also do at the Rio Olympics later this summer as they will be held on the same day as the 200m backstroke qualifiers.

Israel’s other finalist on Tuesday was 19-year-old Meiron Cheruti, who couldn’t repeat his surprise display from the 50m butterfly semis (23.70s) on Monday, finishing the final in the eighth and last place in a time of 23.93s.

Two other Israelis will take part in finals on Wednesday, with Gal Nevo and Andrea Murez advancing on Tuesday in the 200m IM and 100m freestyle, respectively.

Nevo progressed from fourth place overall in the semis with a time of 2:00.32 minutes, eight hundredths of a second slower than his time in the morning heats.

Murez qualified for her final from fifth place overall in a time of 54.57s, 42 hundredths of a second from the fastest qualifier, Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, world champion Katinka Hosszu of Hungary cruised to her second gold medal in the championships on Tuesday, finishing first in the 200m backstroke after claiming the women’s 400m individual medley gold in the opening day.

Hosszu, who clocked 2:07.01 minutes on Tuesday, is competing in five events in London, a challenge she may also attempt at this year’s Rio Olympics. She is also down to race in the 200m medley, where she holds a second world title, and in the 100m backstroke and 100 butterfly at the week-long gathering in the Stratford venue of the 2012 London Olympics.

“Honestly I was a bit surprised at the start, I felt like I just took up my hold and if you look back I was really behind, but I kept my cool and I was able to go a bit faster than in the morning. I’m really excited with these times,” she said on Monday.

Asked if she might attempt a similar schedule at the Olympics in less than 12 weeks’ time, Hosszu replied: “I’m still open to what I’m going to swim in Rio. I haven’t decided yet.”

Elsewhere, the head of the Korea Olympic Committee offered a glimmer of hope to Park Tae-hwan on Tuesday as the former Olympic champion swimmer bids to force the KOC to ditch a controversial doping suspension and allow him back into the national team.

Park, who has already served an 18-month doping ban imposed by swimming’s world governing body FINA , is fighting to overturn a KOC regulation that has tacked on an additional three-year suspension, which would rule him out of the Rio Olympics.

The 26-year-old has lodged a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport but has instructed the Lausanne-based tribunal not to proceed until he has received a definitive answer from the KOC on the rule.

KOC President Kim Jung-haeng said at a lunch meeting on Tuesday that while he would consider opinions from across the board on the case, he wanted to see Park swim in Rio.

Park won gold in the 400m freestyle in Beijing to become the first Korean to win an Olympic swimming medal, but his reputation was shattered when he tested positive for testosterone ahead of the Asian Games in September 2014.

He attributed the failed test to an injection he received at a local clinic, where he said he was being treated for a skin complaint.

Despite the KOC ban, Park entered national trials this month and won all four of his races in times good enough for Olympic qualification.

However, his name was not on the Korea Swimming Federation’s preliminary list of athletes who will have a shot at making the squad for Rio when it was released last week.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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