Thursday, February 29, 2024

Doha 2024, Euro Recap Day 2: Diego Matos Ribeiro Wins Portugal’s First Worlds Gold

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“I can’t believe that I am a world champion and that the national anthem of Portugal will sound for me, for the first time ever,” said 19-year-old Diogo Matos Ribeiro after winning the men’s 50 meter butterfly. Not only is this Ribeiro’s first world title, it’s Portugal’s first swimming title at a World Championships.

This is a weird World Championships and there are often surprises in the 50s but Ribeiro’s win is not totally out of nowhere. He’s the world junior record holder in this event. And last summer, he won silver in Fukuoka, earning Portugal’s first Worlds medal in history.

Now, he’s upgraded to gold.

Courtesy: World Aquatics (via Twitter)

The last five meters of the race were chaos; the announcers thought that it was Cam McEvoy who had gotten the win–they never said Ribeiro’s name until the final call.

Ribeiro won his title in 22.97, just .17 seconds off the Portugese record he swam during his silver medal performance in July. He recovered well after a bad start, which he admitted after the race gave him a moment of doubt. “When the start was really wrong for me, I thought for a moment I couldn’t win. My breakout wasn’t good, but then I gave my all,” he said.

Last year after winning his silver medal, Ribeiro told the media that he “wasn’t expecting” a medal at all. He’d spent the year before recovering from a motorcycle accident that nearly cut his swimming career short. He suffered contusions all over his body, dislocated his shoulder, broke his foot, and lost part of his right index finger, which was later reconstructed with sensation restored.

“After the motorcycle accident that I had last year, I thought I wouldn’t go back into the water again, but I did,” Ribeiro told SwimSwam in 2022, after his breakout performances at European Championships and World Juniors.

But after transitioning his success to the senior international stage at 2023 Worlds, it was a more confident Ribeiro that arrived in Doha.

“Yesterday and today I couldn’t sleep after lunchtime thinking about being a World Champion,” he said. “It was what I was expecting here because I was the top in the start list, but we know that being in a World Championships isn’t about doing your best in the heats or the semifinal, it’s about doing it in the final.”

Ribeiro showed up in the final, shaking off the bad start and momentary doubt to move through the field and get his hands on the wall first. He has three more events in Doha: the 50 free/100 free/100 fly and wants to make the finals in all three.

Quick Hits

  • With her win in the the 100 butterfly, Angelina Köhler became the first German woman to medal at a World Championships since Britta Steffen swept the 50/100 freestyle in 2009. Köhler was just off the 56.11 German record she set in the semis, but 56.28 was more than enough to get the job done as she won the race by .33 seconds. It’s Köhler’s first Worlds medal. “It means so much that my head just cannot take it, I am speechless,” she said after her race.
  • Adam Peaty is back on the podium. Despite a bad start and having to use more energy than he wanted on the first 50m, Peaty fought his way onto the men’s 100 breaststroke podium, earning the bronze medal in 59.10. In the semifinals, he registered his fastest performance since Tokyo (58.60). This is Peaty’s first senior international medal since his 50 breaststroke win at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and his first at the Worlds/Olympics level since the Tokyo Games.
  • Overall, Day 2 featured several “big misses” across prelims and finals. Arguably the two biggest misses of the day came in the women’s 100 breaststroke. Defending champion Ruta Meilutyte did not make it out of the heats, placing 17th with a 1:07.79 after appearing to shut it down with 30 meters to go. Then, 2022 World Champion Benedetta Pilato missed out on the final after clocking 1:06.70, four-hundredths behind 8th place qualifier Sophie Angus. 

European Medal Table Thru Day 2

Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Germany  1 2 3
Portugal 1 1
Netherlands 1 1
Italy 2 2
Great Britain 1 1
Sweden 1 1

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