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Belmonte Continues To Reign In Spain

Mar 23, 2013  - Craig Lord

Double Olympic silver medallist Mireia Belmonte claimed her fourth gold at the Spanish Open in Pontevedra with a 16:11.11 victory in the 1500m freestyle.

The time lifts the 22-year-old to third in the world in the first quarter of 2013 on the way to a home World Championships in Barcelona this summer. At the helm of the world rankings so far are the 16:01.41 of world champion Lotte Friis (DEN) this month and the 16:10.48 of US junior breaker Becca Mann in January. 

Behind Belmonte today, Spanish record holder (16:00.25, 2009) Erika Villaecija took silver in 16:21.17 for a ticket to Barcelona 2013, with Maria Vilas third in 16:34.25. Villaecija also holds the Spanish textile best at 16:05.08.

Belmonte, who had already won the 800m free, 200m butterfly and 400m medley at the meet, turned in 8:36.61 at the 800m, 4sec clear of Vilaecija;. The winner's 500m splits show the even pace of her effort: of 5:23.88, 5:22.12 and 5:25.11. Belmonte has a 1500m best of 16:05.34 from the European Championships a year ago. Clearly on the way back to best after a winter of disruption, Belmonte, coached by Fred Vergnoux, is Spain's best hope of gold at Barcelona 2013 FINA world titles this July and August.

Konrad Cerniak (POL) claimed the 100m butterfly in 52.62, 0.1sec ahead of Rafa Munoz, Navial, the bronze going to Marcos Garcia in 54.16. Munoz, who missed the Barcelona 2013 target of 52.57, turned first the the 50m mark in 24.32, the visitor chasing on 24.69, his victory courtesy of a 27.93 return, to 28.40 for the Spanish sprinter. In 7th, Javier Rivas Gallego, 17, booked a ticket to the European Junior Championships in 54.87.

Marc Sanchez, Sabadell, continued to enjoy a fine championships, his 8:01.19 effort over 800m freestyle granting him a third gold in three days. The minor spoils went to teenagers Victor Oicoechea and Antonio Arroyo in 8:06.61 and 8:09.30 respectively. 

Sabadell celebrated a third victory on the day when Judit Ignacio shaved 0.04sec off her two-year-old Spanish 100m butterfly record in 59.17 (27.82). The winning time missed the 58.89 required for Barcelona home world titles this summer. Carla Campo took silver in 1:00.78, the bronze going to Maria Sanchez in 1:01.23.

In semis, world s/c 400m freestyle champion Melanie Costa, Salle-P, took down the Spanish record of Maria Fuster with a 55.15sec ticket to lane 4 in the final of there 100m freestyle tomorrow. Costa's mark was 0.04sec inside the shiny suit mark of 2009. Luca Dotto, of Italy, led the way to the men's final in 49.17.

Aschwin Wildeboer, Sabadell, booked lane 4 for the final of the 100m backstroke in 54,82, with Miguel Rando closest going through, on 55.44. Art the helm of the women's semis were Duane Da Rocha, Canoe, and Mercedes Peris, on 1:01.43 and 1:02.68 respectively, with France's Alexianne Castel third through in 1:03.35.

The breaststroke dash finals went to Hector Monteagudo in 28.12 (outside world titles target) and Marina Garcia in 31.68. The latter and Jessica Vall's 31.80 for silver provided tickets to Barcelona 2013.