The first medals of the 2023 European Games were awarded this morning during the Artistic Swimming European Championships in Oświęcim. The Italian national anthem was the first one to sound at the European Games across all sports, celebrating the gold of Giorgio Minisini and Lucrezia Ruggiero in the Mixed Duet Technical. Later in the afternoon, Anna- Maria and Eirini Marina Alexandri of Austria were at the top of the podium in the Duet Technical, earning their first European Championship title.
MIXED DUET TECHNICAL FINAL
The second day of artistic swimming in Oświęcim opened with the Mixed Duet Technical Final, an event featured on the European Games programme for the first time. Eight pairs participated in the final, a record-number in the history of the European Championships.
Before the start of the competition, Italy and Spain had declared the same Degree of Difficulty (DD) of 28.90, hence setting the stage for an exciting match-up between the reigning European gold and silver medallists.
Naturally, Giorgio Minisini and Lucrezia Ruggiero, who are also the reigning World champions, came in as the favorites. The pressure was on as they had yet to compete this season, but they delivered and lived up to the expectations. The Italians had a very strong swim to Verdi’s Requiem and scored 242.3599 to successfully defend their title.
For Spain, Emma Garcia Garcia and Dennis Gonzalez Boneu competed for the first time together in a European Championships. Although these are Garcia Garcia’s fourth European Championships, they were Gonzalez Boneu’s first.
However, the 19-year-old already has an impressive track record. He is the reigning European Junior Champion as well as the vice-World Junior Champion in the Mixed Duet Technical. Overall, he is a seven-time European Junior Champion, three-time World Junior Champion, and a six-time World Junior medallist.
Unfortunately, the Spanish pair didn’t have as clean of a swim as the Italians and received a base mark on their final hybrid, dropping their DD to 23.20. They earned a total of 216.5867, which was still enough for silver thanks to high execution and artistic impression scores. This is Garcia Garcia’s sixth medal at the European Championships.
Beatrice Crass and Ranjuo Tomblin of Great Britain won bronze with a score of 203.4916. This is the first European Championships in the senior category for both, who are the 2022 European Junior bronze medallists in the event.
In Oświęcim, they showed a well-executed “Charleston” routine and were credited their full DD of 26.80 to add another bronze to their collection. This is Great Britain’s first medal in artistic swimming at the European Championships in 30 years.
ITA – Giorgio Minisini, Lucrezia Ruggiero – 242.3599
Giorgio Minisini: “When we came out from the pool I was already satisfied, without knowing our score, as I thought we did our best and the routine really went well. I’m really happy with the performance and the gold medal of course. I have my focus primarily on the duet and on our current tasks and not thinking of the Olympics too much. Of course, every single practice is about getting closer to the Olympics but it’s up to our coaches to decide if I could be part of the team or not. If they think my presence makes the team stronger, then I’ll be happy to be the first man or one of them to perform at the Games, but if they say the team is better with eight girls, I’ll accept that without any hesitation as the team’s interest stands above all.”
Lucrezia Ruggiero: “For me, this duet is so much fun, and this is the best part of all, something different, something I’m really enjoying. I’ll get different things from the different persons I train together, from Giorgio it’s the calmness. He is the calmest person on Earth, never gets upset so it’s really fantastic to train and compete together with him.”
ESP – Emma Garcia Garcia, Dennis Gonzalez Boneu – 216.5867
Emma Garcia Garcia: “We are happy, although not completely satisfied as we were fighting for the gold medal, and we finished second and the gap was not that big. We made a small mistake which might have been decisive. We are getting closer and closer to the Italians, we know that they are the best and we know it’s going to be challenging to be better them but we are working on that.”
GBR – Beatrice Crass, Ranjuo Tomblin – 203.4916
Ranjuo Tomblin: “So excited! It’s such an honour you know. We’ve been wanting to represent Team GB, get in that kit and look down at the rings. We are really happy to be able to be the first mixed duet from Great Britain in history. I can’t believe it honestly. We never thought this would happen and I’m just so proud to be one of the first Team GB medallists.
I hope that by winning this medal I can encourage other boys into the sport and show it’s for everyone. It’s not a sport just for females, it’s a sport for anyone. Just look how many males there are, there’s eight mixed duets here and it’s growing and growing – the ultimate goal is to see more boys join the sport.”
Beatrice Crass: “Getting onto the podium and being able to stand there after all the training that we’ve done, and when we’re maybe going through hard days of training, really does make it all worthwhile, especially doing it together.
We’re both really excited about the future, we have the Mixed Free on the fourth day of this competition and so we’ll be keeping up the same energy as we move towards that.”
DUET TECHNICAL FINAL
19 pairs participated in the Duet Technical Final, one of the most crucial events at these European Championships as countries vie for a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Indeed, the duet with the top combined score (Technical + Free) will earn a spot to next year’s Games.
After a dominant performance yesterday in the free duet preliminary, Anna-Maria and Eirini Marina Alexandri of Austria were once again unbeatable, displaying superb technique and the highest DD of the field (33.75). After bronze in 2021 and silver in 2022, the triplet sisters became the 2023 European Champions with a score of 266.4584.
They are now undoubtedly the favorites heading into the Duet Free Final of Saturday, and clear frontrunners to punch their tickets to Paris. It seems the European Games always bring great success to them, as they had already earned a historical silver medal in Baku 2015, making a strong impression on the sport already then.
Bregje de Brouwer and Marloes Steenbeek of the Netherlands won the silver medal with a score of 248.4283. The pair had finished fifth at the Roma European Championships, and have certainly demonstrated a great understanding of the new rules over the season.
Their engaging and fast-paced “Disco” routine, set to “Far From Over” by Frank Stallone, was awarded its full DD of 32.050, the second-highest of the field. These two will be ones to watch as well in the Duet Free Final as they will undoubtedly fight for that Olympic quota.
Sofia Malkogeorgou and Evangelia Platanioti of Greece earned the bronze with a score of 245.6899 for their “Cruella” choreography. These European Championships were the first competition of the season for them, and they will undoubtedly be pleased about this medal after a fourth-place finish in Roma 2022.
Three-time Olympian Platanioti was one of the veterans of this field, having competed at every European Championships or European Cup since 2010. The Greek duet is not entered in the Duet Free event and will thus not be in contention for the Olympic spot.
Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva of Ukraine, the reigning European champions, narrowly missed the podium, landing in fourth place with 245.0501 and only 0.6398 points away from the bronze.
The competition continues tomorrow with the Free Combination Final at 10:00 and the Team Technical Final at 18:00.
AUT – Anna-Maria Alexandri, Eirini Marina Alexandri – 266.4584
Anna-Maria Alexandri: “We’ve been working for this since… not only since the beginning of the season but during our entire life, ever since we started synchro… sorry, artistic swimming. We have imagined that once we could make it but perhaps did not think that we could really achieve it, at least not in the previous years. But this season, we thought that we had a real chance and every single night before I went to sleep, I was thinking of winning this gold medal. This was our goal and I’m so proud that we could make it.”
Eirini Marina Alexandri: “The new system is difficult for everybody. This is a radical change, but we studied the system and tried to adapt to it. It’s not easy, you always felt the pressure before competitions, now it’s even bigger but we learnt to deal with it, and I think we did our best today. Of course, the Olympic spot is our main target here and we know we have a good chance, but we must stay calm till Saturday to be able to perform as expected.”
NED – Bregje de Brouwer, Marloes Steenbeek – 248.4283
Bregje de Brouwer: “It was the first time at least at a big competition like this that the Netherlands won a medal. We are super happy and proud to achieve that. Regarding the new system, now we are in situations where even in the last moment you have to make changes because you may recognise that you need to do a more difficult but better scoring element. Sometimes it’s better and you take some risks but this is how things are working now.”
Marloes Steenbeek: “This silver medal will definitely make the sport bigger in our country. It means a lot for us and for Dutch artistic swimming. We really gave everything to achieve it.”
GRE – Sofia Malkogeorgou, Evangelia Platanioti – 245.6899
Evangelia Platanioti: “I really love this new system as this gives everyone, and I repeat, everyone the chance to make the podium. If you have the potential and you work hard for your goals, you can be on top. Maybe it’s less artistic swimming and more about elements put together for choreography, but the new rules finally opened the doors for all of us.
I’m already thinking of how we can get better and claim an even better position. It doesn’t mean that I’m not satisfied, we are really happy with this medal. I just believe in myself, in my teammates and I know that everyone can achieve the greatest results. This is something you simply couldn’t make in the old system.”
By Christina Marmet / LEN