Teenage swimmer Kolesnikov adds gold, silver to medal haul

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Glasgow, Scotland (AP) — Russian teenage swimmer Kliment Kolesnikov added a gold and a silver to his European Championships medal haul in just over an hour’s span on Monday.

Kolesnikov dominated the men’s 100-meter backstroke for his third gold, and returned to the pool shortly afterward to help Russia take silver in the 4×100-meter medley relay.

It raised his total to four from as many events.

On Saturday, Kolesnikov improved the world record in the 50 backstroke to 24 seconds, a day after triumphing with the Russian team in the 4×100 freestyle relay. A fifth medal is likely to follow after the 200-meter backstroke on Wednesday.

Kolesnikov, who turned 18 last month, is living up to his billing as one of the big prospects for Russian swimming at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

A year after his international debut at the 2016 European junior championships, he enjoyed his breakthrough, placing fourth in the 200 backstroke at the world championships in Budapest and winning four titles at the European short-track championships in Copenhagen.

In Denmark, he just missed out on a perfect five golds from five events as he was edged for the 50 backstroke title by Italy’s Simone Sabbioni.

Sabbioni was no threat to Kolesnikov in the 100 backstroke on Monday, finishing 1.32 behind in sixth.

Kolesnikov opened fast and gradually extended his lead. He seemed to be cruising to victory until fellow Russian Evgeny Rylov started to catch up in the final 20 meters. Kolesnikov held off the challenge to clock 52.53 seconds, with Rylov, the 200 backstroke world champion, coming 0.21 behind. Greece’s Apostolos Christou came more than a second behind in 53.72 for bronze.

Less than 80 minutes later, Kolesnikov opened the relay event for Russia and beat his time from earlier tonight by 0.02 for a new personal best.

The 52.51 time meant yet another junior world record, but also left him still well short of the world record of 51.85, set by Olympic champion Ryan Murphy of the United States at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

But records are not what Kolesnikov is bothering about at these championships.

“The big goal is the Olympics,” he said on Saturday after beating Liam Tancock’s nine-year-old best mark in the 50 backstroke. “It’s nothing special what I have done today, the special one is the Olympics.”

The medley relay was won by Britain in a European record time of 3 minutes, 40.18 seconds. It gave Adam Peaty his second gold medal after setting a world record of 57.10 in the 100-meter breaststroke on Saturday, just an hour before Kolesnikov swam his.