GLASGOW (Reuters) - Yuliya Efimova, a polarizing figure in world swimming after being at the center of doping controversies, completed a European Championship breaststroke double when adding the 200 meters title to her 100m gold on Tuesday.
The Russian took her collection of European gold medals to five in supreme fashion, using her now-familiar surging tactics to burst through from fourth to first on the third length and then control affairs from the front.
Having won the two-length race on Sunday in a similar manner, she clocked 2 minutes 21.31 seconds to finish 1.71 seconds clear of Spain’s Jessica Vall Montero (2:23.02).
The 26-year-old Efimova, who served a 16-month suspension in 2013 after failing a drugs test and was left deeply unhappy at being booed on the podium at the 2016 Olympics, has reinvented her career after even some of her rivals bad-mouthed her in Rio.
After her triumph, asked how she remained so dominant in European breaststroking, she said: “Just training, I don’t know why. I think it’s time because I have swum for pretty long and I have not always dominated so much. Now finally!”
Her personal Olympics nightmare had flared up alongside Russia’s ban from the Games for systematic doping.
Efimova, who had also been cleared earlier in 2016 after testing positive for meldonium, was originally banned from Rio because of her previous doping suspension but that was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The response she received in Rio from spectators and fellow competitors alike had left her close to tears but she had found her smile again in Glasgow amid a resurgent Russian team that leads the European swimming medal table with seven golds.
Efimova’s team mate Anastasiia Fesikova took the 100m backstroke title in 59.19sec, just preventing Britain’s silver medalist Georgia Davies from completing her own double after her 50m backstroke win.
Hungary’s Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu, looking nothing like her world-beating best after suffering personal problems this year, could only finish fourth.
Italian teenager Simona Quadarella was another to pull off a notable double, the 19-year-old 800m champion breaking away from Germany’s silver medalist Sarah Koehler at about half-way to eventually take the 1,500 meters title by over six seconds.
One of the most explosive duels of the week saw Ukrainian world record holder Andriy Govorov oust Britain’s world champion Ben Proud by three-tenths of a second in the 50m butterfly in a new championship record 22.48sec.
Even though Govorov’s global mark of 22.27sec set in Rome last month survived, it was still the third fastest time in history.
The hosts, though, were able to celebrate two triumphs with Duncan Scott unexpectedly taking the 200 meters freestyle title before 17-year-old Freya Anderson swam a nerveless anchor leg to bring home gold in the women’s 4x200m freestyle for Britain.
Reporting by Ian Chadband, Editing by William Maclean