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Johnson brings curtain down on European Juniors with second gold

8th July 2012

City of Sheffield’s Matthew Johnson claimed his second gold of the meet on the final day of the 2012 European Junior Championships in Antwerp.

At a competition that has seen British Gas GBR Swimming Team represented in 43 finals, win 19 medals, better 81 personal bests and claim a Welsh senior record, the British youngsters stepped up to the plate once again adding gold, silver and two bronzes to the count in the final session.

I'm really pleased with a second gold - it was more than I expected this week.

The first final of the evening saw Johnson capitalise on this success by adding to his 200m Butterfly title with gold in the 400m Individual Medley.

The City of Sheffield swimmer fearlessly took the race out from the start, showing complete control as he powered ahead of his rivals to touch in 4:17.26 - a time just shy of the European Junior record held by Hungary’s Gergo Kis.

“I’m really pleased I got a second gold. It was more than I had expected,” said Johnson, who had also won 400m Freestyle silver earlier in the meet.

“I wouldn’t have minded going a bit faster but obviously it’s gold so I’m happy.

“I really wanted to get the European Junior record but hopefully next year I’ll get the chance to try again.”

Max Litchfield put in a gutsy performance to produce his second personal best of the day and claimed sixth in a time of 4:25.72.

With the taste for victory spreading across the British camp, Jessica Fullalove sealed her second silver medal in 24 hours, racing to a podium finish in the 100m Backstroke.

That was my fourth 100m Backstroke of the meet but I progressed through and got faster every time.

Fullalove, who posted a backstroke leg time of 1:01.81 to help claim silver in the 4x100m Medley relay last night, proved she can step it up when it counts, coming home in 1:01.72 – just 0.2 seconds behind the personal best she set in London earlier this year.

“I was gutted that I didn’t get the gold medal,” said Fullalove.“This was my fourth 100m Backstroke of the meet, but I progressed through and got faster every time.

“I’m not that pleased with the time if I’m honest, but I got silver so I’m really happy with that.”

Chelsea & Westminster swimmer Isabella Hindley produced a personal best performance of 1:02.99, placing her fifth in the final.

The medals kept coming with Craig Benson claiming bronze in the 100m Breaststroke in what proved to be the most tightly contested event of the meet so far as just 0.04 seconds separated the medals.

Benson battled hard to the finish and kept Russia’s Vsevolod Zanko off the podium in a time of 1:01.64.

West Dunbartonshire’s Ross Murdoch also gave a solid performance bettering his time from last night, finishing 1:02.50 and earning sixth place.

Britain also sealed the bronze medal in the Boys 4 x 100 Medley relay as last night’s 200m Backstroke gold medallist Joseph Patching (56.29), Benson (1:01.09), Sam Horrocks (54.37) and Leo Jaggs (51.09) comfortably claimed third place in 3:42.84.

Molly Renshaw and Sophie Taylor took to the pool next in the 100m Breaststroke final.

Renshaw, who set a new personal best in the semi-final and lifted 200m Breaststroke gold earlier in the meet, edged ever closer to breaking the 1:10 seconds barrier, posting an impressive time of 1:10.12 to place just outside the medals in fourth position.

Taylor (City of Leeds) also improved on her semi-final performance by almost a second, finishing in 1:10.45 to earn sixth place.

Freestylers James Guy and Stephen Milne competed next in the 200m, having qualified through from last night in sixth and eighth place respectively.

Both swimmers dug deep against a very strong field, with Guy finishing sixth in 1:50.37 and Milne eighth in 1:52.16.

Meanwhile, City of Cardiff’s Chloe Tutton came through to secure fifth place in the 200m Individual Medley final in a time of 2:17.36.

Plymouth Leander’s Benjamin Proud claimed fifth in the 50m Freestyle, showing impressive strength and smashing through the 23 seconds mark in a new British age-group record time of 22.70.

Finally, in the 4 x 200 Freestyle relay, Amelia Maughan (2:04.61), Emily Knowles-Jones (2:04.36), Emily Basforth (2:04.00) and Tutton (2:03.16) fought hard against a very tough line-up, coming home in 8:16.13 to earn fifth place.

British Swimming Development coach, Mark Perry said: “I’m really pleased with the team’s performance; it’s been a tough five days.

“We’ve won 19 medals from 43 finals, which shows massive depth in British swimming. A lot of the medal winners we’ve had competing this year are the right age to come back next year which is great.

“81 personal bests across a five day meet is a great team performance by anyone’s standards.”

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