23 Medals, including 7 golds, tells its own story of the success enjoyed by Britain’s juniors at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. Duncan Scott was the individual pick from the team, returning from the competition, which filled in for the European Junior Championships this year, with 6 medals in his kit bag, including three gold.
It was quite a week for the 17-year-old from Grangemouth, his efforts measured with great precision to deliver the sprint double over 100 and 200m freestyle and a hand in four relay medals. His consistency was also impressive, with 49-low 100 free times produced regularly. His 200m freestyle win ahead of team mate Cameron Kurle in silver, was a masterclass in front running and even if he was a little off his lifetime bests through the week the podium places were claimed with aplomb.
It will be interesting to see how this competition fits in with his season plan and whether he was fully rested, as Scott now head back into training to prepare for another trip east in August for the world championships, in which he will form part of the 4 x 100 freestyle squad. His relay performance this week, leading off the men’s team to gold in the 4×100 free and silver in the 4×200 free, was exemplary, even pinch hitting an impressive 52.79 split on the butterfly leg of the medley relay. He should be an asset to the senior team in Kazan.
Two more gold medals came from Luke Greenbank who secured a backstroke double. His win in the 200m was about as dominant a victory as you are likely to see in international waters at any level, with the field simply unable to keep with his pace. A winning time of 1:56.89 was good enough for 9th in the senior world rankings this year and represented a World Junior Record. If his win in the 100m had been by a fingernail, this was victory by a street, and sets him up nicely for a tilt at world junior gold in Singapore later this year.
But while Scott and Greenbank kept up the British momentum through the five days of competition, the medal rush had been started on the first day by Derventio’s Abbie Wood who took a storming gold in the 400IM. She added bronze in the 200IM with a huge PB for good measure. On the same night Holly Hibott of Stockport Metro added gold in the 800m freestyle, starting the team off as they would continue.
Britain has an excellent record of producing male breaststrokers and you can add Charlie Attwood and Luke Davies as the latest names off the conveyor belt – they took bronzes in the 100m and 200m events respectively. Similarly Layla Black, so impressive at trials earlier in the year, took bronze in the equivalent ladies 200m. Meanwhile, there were double podium finishes in both the men’s 200m IM, Jarvis Parkinson and Martyn Walton taking silver and bronze, while Amelia Clynes and Laura Stephens managed the same feat in the 100m butterfly.
There was also an excellent return in the relay events, yielding 8 medals overall which represented a podium finish for every team entered. The highlight here was a win for the men’s 4 x 100 freestyle team of Scott, Walton, Daniel Speers and Kurle, who produced a mature anchor leg under intense pressure from the Russian quartet.
But what do the results and evident potential on show in Azerbaijan speak of in terms of future success? Well Greenbank is the fastest 200 backstroker in Britain right now and well placed to make it in senior waters, while Scott will be tested directly this summer in the big pool. The vagaries of the girls age groups mean it can be hard to extrapolate forward to performances as a senior; the boys typically being much closer to times that could make waves in senior competition by virtue of being that bit older. Nonetheless, it’s clear that potential is there by the bucket-load.
For most this was a learning process, and for some a step towards bigger things, albeit it’s inevitable that some will fall by the wayside – that is the nature of sport. All that said, as a test against their peers, it was a test passed with flying colours and a set of results to be celebrated.
Duncan Scott – 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle
Luke Greenbank – 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke
Abbie Wood – 400m IM
Hollie Hibbott – 800m freestyle
Men’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay
Amelia Clynes – 100m butterfly
Cameron Kurle – 200m freestyle
Jarvis Parkinson – 200m IM
Men’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay
Men’s 4 x 100 medley relay
Mixed 4 x 100m medley relay
Mixed 4 x 100m freestyle relay
Laura Stephens – 100m butterfly
Layla Black – 100m breaststroke
Abbie Wood – 200m IM
Charlie Attwood – 100m breaststroke
Luke Davies – 200m breaststroke
Martyn Walton – 200m IM
Women’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay
Women’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay
Women’s 4 x 100 medley relay