double joy for golden girl simmonds

Lizzie Simmonds led the way for the British team at the European Youth Olympic Festival as she took two golds on the second night of finals. She was joined on the top step of the podium by Lauren Collins and the mixed 4x200m freestyle relay team, with all four victories coming in championship record times.
Simmonds started as a clear favourite for both the 200m backstroke and individual medley events following the morning heats and she was more than capable of living up to such a billing. IN the backstroke she had opened up almost a two second lead by the halfway point, before storming through the second hundred metres to touch in 2:14.08, over five seconds ahead of her nearest rival, Russian Oxana Shlapakova. Just minutes later the Lincoln Vulcans swimmer was back in action in the medley final, where she again dominated the field, finishing almost three seconds clear of Hungarian runner up Emese Kovacs.
Collins’ victory in the 100m freestyle was less straightforward. Despite touching first the Birmingham swimmer had an anxious wait for confirmation of her victory, after the timing system failed during her race. Her time was eventually confirmed at 57.90 and she was awarded the gold medal after a protest from the British team.
In the final event of the evening, the mixed 4x200m freestyle team had were starting as clear favourites having finished well clear of their rival in the morning heats. Led off by Hatfield’s Adam Brown, fresh from a personal best performance and victory in the B final of the 400m freestyle, the team were well in the medal hunt after the opening leg. Strong swims from Ellen Gandy, Steven Beckerleg and Ceri Unwin soon gave the squad clear water as they cruised home almost 8 seconds ahead of second placed Russia.
The British swimmers have now amassed seven gold, one bronze and one silver in the first two days of competition in Ligano and are well on their way to their target of 19 medals, one more than was achieved in Paris in 2003.