Tally ends with single medal

The national team ended its appearance at the World Aquatics Championships in Melbourne with a solitary medal, a bronze won on the opening day of competition by Spyros Gianniotis in the men’s 5-kilometer open-water race. At the previous Worlds two years ago in Montreal, Greece emerged with two medals, a gold for Aristidis Grigoriadis, who was 19 at the time, in the men’s 50-meter backstroke, and a bronze for the men’s water polo team. Both Grigoriadis and the Greek water polo team competed yesterday, the event’s concluding day. Grigoriadis was unsuccessful in his defense of his world title won in Montreal. He ended sixth in the men’s 50-meter backstroke final with a time of 25.52 seconds. South Africa’s Gerhard Zandberg took gold in 24.98 seconds, Germany’s Thomas Rupprath won silver in 25.20, and the UK’s Liam Tancock won bronze in 25.23. The Greek men’s water polo team ended sixth after a narrow loss against Italy, 16-15, in a penalty shootout in a playoff for fifth and sixth places. Greece made a late comeback in the encounter’s final period, to reduce a 9-6 deficit to 9-9 right before the end of regular time. In extra time, it was the Italians who came back from the dead with a late equalizer, 17 seconds before the end, that took the contest to a penalty shootout. Italy held on for a 16-15 final score and fifth place in the tournament. Croatia upset traditional powerhouse Hungary, winner of the past two Olympic gold medals, with a 9-8 win in extra time that gave the Croatians their first ever water polo gold medal at the Worlds. The final had ended at 7-7 after regular time. Goalkeeper Frano Vican was the true hero, pulling off some stunning saves, including a blinder late in the final term which helped Croatia push the match into extra time. «From the beginning we knew we had a chance, and to be honest we didn’t know if we could win gold but any medal would have done,» said Croatia’s Mile Smodlaka. «We didn’t lose our heads during extra time – we kept concentrating and that’s the main thing. I still can’t believe that we won.» Damir Buric added: «It was really hard, really physical. When you play a team like Hungary you know it won’t be easy. To be honest, I thought we played better than them but when we were two goals down I knew it would be hard to fight back.» Spain took the bronze medal, prevailing in a marathon penalty shootout against Serbia. Two Greek swimmers competed in yesterday’s final of the men’s 400-meter individual medley, but both failed to place for medals. Yiannis Drymonakos ended sixth in 4:15.75, just ahead of teammate Vassilis Demetis, who ended seventh in 4:16.83. The USA’s Michael Phelps won the event’s gold medal with a new world record of 4:06.22. Compatriot Ryan Lochte took silver with a time of 4:09.74 and Italy’s Luca Marin ended third in 4:09.88. The USA topped the event’s medals table with a 21-14-5 tally. Russia ranked second with 11-6-7, and Australia third with 9-7-10. (Kathimerini, AFP)

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