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Last Updated: Monday, 24 March 2008, 22:34 GMT
European Swimming Ch'ships day seven
BBC Radio 5 Live's Bob Ballard
At the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven

Tom Daley is interviewed after winning his diving gold medal
Tom Daley faces the press, including the BBC's Bob Ballard

I'm still getting my breath back after an exhilarating few hours in Eindhoven.

If the penultimate day was vastly disappointing, the contrast in the final session could hardly have been more different.

We marked your card that Tom Daley, the 13-year-old prodigy from Plymouth, might just bite back after a disappointing result in the platform synchro competition on Sunday, and bounce back he surely did.

He was third after the preliminaries, but just sixth halfway through the individual 10m platform competition.

Many looking on shook their heads and were contemplating a medal-less week for Britain's divers.

But young Master Daley had not read the script - he was too intent on listening to The World's Greatest by R Kelly and Proud - the 2012 Olympics anthem - from Heather Small.

He summoned up the courage to go for it with his fourth dive, four maximum 10s ensued, with four more to add for good measure on his penultimate effort.

Daley had a cushion of 17 points going into the final dive, a relatively new one, and his execution of it was good, but not that good.

That left the door ajar for Germany's Sascha Klein, who had done so well at the recent World Cup in China, but his string of scores of eight left him just over four points shy of gold.

Kate Heywood, Lizzie Simmonds and Jemma Lowe celebrate with Fran Halsall
The British quartet became only the fourth to break four minutes for the event

Can Daley, who will be 14 in August, go onto Olympic success as well at his first attempt? Don't bet against it. When it comes to drive and determination - he has it all.

Which leads me nicely onto Britain's women's 4x100m medley relay team. Brilliant in the heats, even more superb in the final.

The quartet of Lizzie Simmonds, Kate Heywood, Jemma Lowe and Fran Halsall set a new European record of 3.59.33.

Halsall overpowered the Russian Anastasia Aksenova on her first 50 and holding on with gusto as she did when the GB quartet won this event in Hungary two years ago.

On a day of positives, there was just one negative - the men's team couldn't follow suit and ended up a disappointing seventh.

But two British golds in just over two hours, please sir can I have some more?

Alain Bernard couldn't keep his run of breaking freestyle world records going. It was three in three swims before today - and although he won gold in the 50m event - his time of 21.66 seconds was 16 one hundredths shy of his semi-final record.

Marleen Veldhuis did oblige for a raucous Dutch crowd by winning the women's event in 24.09 beating the World Record of fellow Dutchwoman Inge De Bruijn.

Federica Pellegrini, who was so eager to start in the 200m freestyle she got disqualified, more than made up for that by winning the 400m in a new world record time of 4.01.53.

There were also European records for Laszlo Cseh in the 400m individual medley and for Russia in the men's medley relay.

So what have we learned from the past week in Eindhoven?

That undoubtedly European swimming is moving on a pace in many events, and that many countries without a great swimming heritage, such as Spain and Hungary, are putting a great programme in place for success in the future.

As for Britain, a gold and two silvers in the swimming and another gold in the diving is a good return for a small team, with the promise of some fast swimming at the Olympic Trials which start in Sheffield next Monday.



SEE ALSO
GB women smash Euro medley record
24 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day six
24 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Davies wins European silver medal
22 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB women break record for silver
21 Mar 08 |  Swimming
Davies in tough Olympic warm-up
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day two
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
European Swimming Ch'ships day one
19 Mar 08 |  Swimming
GB swimmers prepare for Eindhoven
07 Mar 08 |  Swimming


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