Battle for the bronze is wide open

Nevo positions himself for a medal in 200 IM; Ivri 8th in 50 fly

Gal Nevo proved on Tuesday that he is capable of ending Israel’s decade-long medal drought in the European Swimming Championships when he competes in the final of the 200-meter Individual Medley on Wednesday evening.
The 23-year-old advanced to the final from third position overall, clocking a time of one minute and 59.67 seconds in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Hungarian Laszlo Cseh and Austria’s Markus Rogan qualified for the final from the first two positions and are expected to fight for the gold and silver medals.
However, the battle for the bronze will be wide open and Nevo will be confident of following in the footsteps of Eitan Urbach, Miki Halika and Yoav Gath, the last Israeli to take a medal at this event, winning a bronze in the 200-meter backstroke 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, Amit Ivri, Israel’s first finalist in Budapest, ended the women’s 50-meter butterfly final in eighth position on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Ivri touched the wall after 26.53 seconds, two hundredths of a second slower than her time in Monday’s semifinal, and failed to finish better than the seventh position she claimed two years ago.
Also Tuesday, Camille Lacourt of France set a continental record in winning the 100-meter backstroke final.
Lacourt won in 52.11 seconds, improving on the European best of 52.27 set last year by Helge Meeuw of Germany. French teammate Jeremy Stravius took silver, 1.33 seconds behind. Liam Tancock of Britain was third, 1.75 seconds back.
“I do not realize what happened to me,” Lacourt said. “After the preliminaries I thought I could win the race, but a European record was not a goal. What a fast race.”
Tancock started the final as a substitute for Markus Rogan, who withdrew to concentrate on the semifinals of the 200 individual medley, so his bronze was surprising.
“It’s brilliant. I only made the final because Markus Rogan withdrew, but today I was much better,” said Tancock, who was ninth in qualifying on Monday.
“I’m not fully prepared here because I’m concentrating on the Commonwealth Games in October.”
Alexander Dale Oen of Norway also set a European record, winning the 100 breaststroke in 59.20 seconds.
“Prior to the European championships I wanted to swim under one minute,” Dale Oen said. “My main focus here was on the 100, but now we’ll wait and see what I can do in the 50 and 200 meters.”
Hugues Duboscq of France was second, 0.95 seconds behind the Norwegian. Fabio Scozzoli of France was third, 1.21 back.
The 30th edition of the European championships is the first major international meet where competitors can no longer wear the neck-to-ankle bodysuits which helped set dozens of world records in recent years.
Rogan, who won a pair of silver medals in backstroke events at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said swimmers were training harder because of the bodysuit ban.
“Everyone’s afraid you will be called ‘Mr. Suit,’” Rogan said.
“Everyone’s afraid you will not perform well without the suit.”
While several meet and European records have been set already at the championships, times have been well below world record pace.
Rafael Munoz of Spain won the men’s 50 butterfly. He finished in 23.17, 0.24 seconds faster than Frederick Bousquet of France. Evgeny Korotshkin of Russia was third, just 0.02 seconds behind Bousquet.
“After a few weeks of worries I am happy that today everything went so well,” said Munoz, who avoided a doping ban last week after being cleared by FINA.
The sport’s governing body accepted medical evidence that Munoz was in a “vulnerable psychological condition” when first failing to report his whereabouts for out-ofcompetition testing.
Munoz had three reporting failures since the 2009 world championships in Rome, enough for at least a two-month ban according to antidoping rules.
Despite FINA’s ruling, the World Anti-Doping Agency may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.