European Championships: Gregorio Paltrinieri Delivers 10k Masterclass

Gregorio Paltrinieri: Photo Courtesy: European Aquatics

European Championships: Gregorio Paltrinieri Delivers 10k Masterclass

Gregorio Paltrinieri enjoyed a winning margin of more than 21 seconds as he claimed the 10km title at the European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade.

Victory saw the Italian claim 10km gold for the second time following victory in Budapest in 2021 and he was followed home in a mighty tussle for the two remaining spots on the podium by Marc-Antoine Olivier and David Betlehem, who won bronze despite touching in the same time as Domenico Acerenza.

It was an open water masterclass by Paltrinieri who swam to the front early on the second lap.

The Tokyo bronze medallist kept up the pace while none of the chasing pack – mainly a mix of Italian, French and Hungarian swimmers – were able to catch him before he made his decisive move.

After turning onto the last lap and passing the buoys, he cut to the inside, chose a seemingly longer path but it was all part of the plan.

He built such a huge gap that by the next turn there was no way for the others to catch him up again as he enjoyed a winning margin of 21.4secs in 1:49:19.6.

Gregorio Paltrinieri: Photo courtesy: European Aquatics

Paltrinieri said:

“It was a good test, I really enjoyed the race. I was preparing for this big sprint, I just had to keep the control.

“It was hard when we turned onto the last lap, at the buoys I was between Domenico (Acerenza) and Marc (Olivier) and I didn’t feel comfortable at all.

“I just wanted to swim alone, so as soon as we took the turn, I immediately cut inside as I knew I was able to do a very fast sprint.

“I mean, for 800m, but a fast one where I could leave the others behind. It worked, so everything turned out really well here.”

Behind the Italian, four men were rushing for the two remaining spots on the podium and they stormed through the finish line in a span of 0.5 seconds.

Rio 2016 bronze medallist Olivier was second in 1:49:41.0 to claim his third straight European silver.

“The race was great, the course was great and I’m happy with this medal,” said the Frenchman who will compete at a home Games in the River Seine next month.

“There are still five weeks until the Olympics, so this was a very good test. The lead was changing constantly and we had a good fight for the medals and I’m glad that I could clinch the silver.”

Next home was Betlehem who shared the same finishing time of 1:49:41.2 with defending champion Acerenza with the Hungarian declared the bronze medallist.

Dario Verani was fifth in 1:49:41.5, one place ahead of 2024 World bronze medallist Hector Pardoe with World champion Kristof Rasovszky in ninth.

l-r: Marc-Antoine Olivier, Gregorio Paltrinieri & David Betlehem: Photo courtesy: European Aquatics

Over the last three years, Betlehem has lost out over the final metres to stronger rivals but he earned a long-awaited individual medal at a major senior championships.

He said:

“Finally, I got this medal, it’s a really great feeling.

“After so many fourth, fifth, sixth-place finishes at the major events, it’s awesome to stand on the podium at the European Championships after a 10km race.

“I wanted to go in front at the beginning, then let the others take the lead and work hard to stay close and get ready for the last sprint.

“It was a bit surprising that Greg managed to build such a lead, we didn’t see him because of a boat, but nevertheless, finally the touch favoured me, which is a big boost for me before the Olympics.”

The men’s and women’s 5km races will take place on Thursday 13 June.

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