SPORTS

History repeated for Greece in Budapest

Greece’s 4×200-meter freestyle men’s team won the bronze medal at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on Saturday, reviving memories of the national team’s first swimming medal at the Europeans just four years ago in the same event. The swimming quartet of Andreas Zisimos, Giorgos Demetis, Dimitris Magganas and Nikos Xylouris repeated history in the 4×200-meter freestyle final with a time of 7:16.67 for third place. Italy won the gold medal and set a new European record, 7:09.60, which undercut the continent’s previous best of 7:10.86. The British team won the silver in 7:11.63. The medal-winning performance from the Greek team brought it back into the spotlight following a series of near misses since that very first swimming medal for Greece, at the Europeans in Berlin in 2002. Two years later, at the Europeans in Madrid, the Greek team ended fourth. It also qualified for the finals at the Athens Olympics and the previous Worlds. Highlighting Greece’s improvement in international swimming, the national team has won two silver medals and five bronze in Budapest. Nery-Madey Niangkouara, one of Greece’s medal winners in Budapest with a bronze medal in the women’s 100-meter freestyle last week, failed to repeat the success in the 50-meter freestyle. Niangkouara ended seventh in her semifinal with a time of 25.61 seconds. But the 23-year-old, who came to Budapest after considering retirement because of a seventh-place performance in the 100-meter freestyle at the previous Worlds in Montreal, seemed unperturbed by her failure to make the 50-meters final in Budapest. The Greek swimmer said she entered this championship having set the objective of distinction in the 100-meter freestyle. «I didn’t do too bad. From early morning, I wasn’t feeling very well for the sprint, so I didn’t expect anything crazy to happen,» said Niangkouara following her 50-meters freestyle semifinal on Saturday. Niangkouara completed her commitments in Budapest yesterday – on the closing day of swimming competition – with the 4×100-meter medley team, which narrowly missed making the final. The Greek team swam its semifinal in 4.11.71 to end 10th overall. Yiannis Drymonakos, the winner of one of Greece’s two silver medals at the Budapest competition in the men’s 200-meter butterfly, ended sixth in yesterday’s final of the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:20.38. Teammate Vassilis Lemetis ended a place behind with 4:20.48. On Saturday, newcomer Sotiris Pastras, 20, who arrived in Budapest as an unknown, almost emerged from the pool with a medal in the men’s 100-meter butterfly final. Pastras ended fourth to assert that his preceding efforts in the event’s heats and semifinal were no flukes. Defending champion Andriy Serdinov of Ukraine won the gold medal in 51.95 seconds. France’s Amaury Leveaux won silver in 52.76 and Russian Nikolay Skvortsov took bronze with 52.96 seconds, just ahead of Pastras, the Greek finalist, who registered 53.16 seconds.