Ones to Watch: European Championships

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Eleven days. Seven sports. Two host cities. The first-ever European Championships will soon be underway, with around 4,500 of the continent’s finest competing in the new multi-sport event.

Featured sports include aquatics, gymnastics, athletics, triathlon, cycling, rowing, and golf.

The inaugural edition takes place from 2–12 August and is being co-hosted by Glasgow, Scotland, and Berlin, Germany. The event will be held every four years.

From rising stars to seasoned Olympians, there are plenty of big names you won’t want to miss. Here are the athletes to watch.

British Invasion

With an enormous 102-strong squad, Great Britain are hoping to win big in the athletics section of the Euros, which take place in Berlin.

Zharnel Hughes recently took 100m silver at the London Anniversary Games. He’s a favourite, but his toughest competition may come from compatriots Reece Prescod and CJ Ujah.

Martyn Rooney will be looking for a third straight European title in the men’s 400m. He’ll also be running in the 4×400m relay, the event for which he won bronze at Beijing 2008.

Breakout sprinter Imani Lansiquot didn’t meet the automatic qualification standards at nationals, but an impressive last few weeks have earned her a last-minute invite.

The 20-year-old was glowing after winning relay gold at her first senior competition at the inaugural World Cup in London earlier this month.

At the Anniversary Games, she also set a new PB of 11.11 in the 100m sprint.

Unfazed by injury

A car accident cost Bruno Hortelano his 2017 season, but the Rio 2016 semi-finalist is back and better than ever.

The Spanish sprinter returned to competition in May.

He’s since set new national records in the 200m and 400m.

In the hurdles, veteran Eline Berings will be fighting for a spot on the podium. Berings is undoubtedly one of the best hurdlers in Belgium with a formidable 17 national titles (12 indoor, 5 outdoor), but an unlucky string of injuries cost her the chance to compete in Rio.

This year, she’s already taken two gold medals at the national level and set a personal best of 12.72 in the 100m hurdles.

She’s hoping to build on that success to gain her first European Championships podium since Turin 2009.

Ready for a rematch

Dafne Schippers, whose accolades include a silver medal from Rio and five world championship medals, is seeking to redeem a disappointing seventh place finish in her signature event, the 200m, at the Anniversary Games.

She crossed the finish line 0.17 seconds after Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the reigning European champ in the 200m.

Asher-Smith will be looking to add a second consecutive title, but she’s kicking it up a notch this year by competing in the 100m and 4×100m relay as well.

The Rio bronze medallist is this year’s leading European runner in the 100 and 200m.

The long jump will see Rio medallists Katerina Stefanidi of Greece and Ivana Spanovic of Serbia face off again. Stefanidi is the current Olympic champion, while Spanovic holds the European title.

In the gym, youth and experience collide again in the form of Irish up-and-comer Rhys McClenaghan and Britian’s most successful male artistic gymnast Max Whitlock.

Whitlock won the floor and pommel horse finals Rio 2016. A year later, he successfully defended his pommel world title.

But in April’s Commonwealth Games, he was forced to settle for silver behind McClenaghan, who hasn’t been shy about the rivalry.

Whitlock didn’t respond online, but mentioned his 19-year-old rival in an interview with Team GB.

“If there weren’t younger guys coming through then there would be a big problem. Success breeds success,” Whitlock said.

“It’s great to have people like Rhys coming through and I gain so much motivation from it.

“It pushes me. I thrive off the challenge and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Titles at stake

Three-time Olympian and reigning European champ Libania Grenot of Italy hopes to make history with her third straight title in the 400m.

Also defending her crown is Nataliya Pryshchepa of Ukraine.

The 23-year-old clinched 800m gold in the 2016 championships in Amsterdam — her nation’s only medal of the competition.

Rio reunion

Many of the top swimmers from the Rio Games will be present for the aquatics in Glasgow.

The women’s competition will see the likes of Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in the 50m and 100m free and fly races. She snatched Olympic gold in the 100m free in Rio and holds six world records.

Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu will be a daunting competitor in the 100m and 200m back. She’ll also swim the 200m medley against Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, who she beat to gold in Rio.

Katinka Hosszu of Hungary congratulates silver medallist Siohban-Marie O’Connor after the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri will make an appearance in his signature 1500m free — an event he consistently dominates on the world stage. He’ll also swim the 800m free.

Rio bronze medallist and world champion Evgeny Rylov of Russia is favoured to win both the 100m and 200m backstroke, while Britian’s Adam Peaty is poised to take the 50m and 100m breaststroke. He holds world records in both events.

Adam Peaty of Great Britain celebrates winning gold and setting a new world record in the Men's 100m Breaststroke at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Adam Peaty of Great Britain celebrates winning gold and setting a new world record in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Fellow Brit Duncan Scott owns two Rio silver medals and back-to-back FINA World Championship titles. Catch him in the 200m free and the 200m medley.

Laszlo Cseh, a six-time Olympic medallist who has competed in every Summer Games since 2004, will be one of the most experienced competitors in the 50m, 100m and 200m fly. He’ll also be venturing into unfamiliar waters in the 400m free.

If diving is more your speed, don’t miss reigning Olympic and European champions Jack Laugher and Chris Mears of Great Britain in the 3m springboard synchro event.

Relive their Olympic performance here:

Hitting the gym

In 2016, Sanne Wevers became the Netherlands’ first female gymnast to claim individual Olympic gold when she outscored Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez on the balance beam. Now 26, Wevers hopes to capture her first European title.

To do so, she’ll have to take down Germany’s top female gymnast, Pauline Schaefer. After representing her country at the Rio Olympics, Schaefer went on to collect balance beam gold at last year’s world championships in Montreal.

She’s also looking for her first European victory.

Nina Derwael made history twice last year as the first Belgian to medal at European and world championships. Her skills on the uneven bars earned her the win at the Doha World Cup in March.

But the Belgian will have to pull out all the stops to contend with Becky Downie, a two-time European champion on uneven bars.

Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece has been dubbed ‘Lord of the Rings’ for his success in the rings event. The Rio Olympic gold medallist is eyeing Tokyo 2020, and has stated that his goal is to be undefeated for an entire Olympic cycle.

Epke Zonderland will also be competing. Zonderland became the first Dutchman to medal on the horizontal bar when he did so in London. Four years later, a nasty fall cost him the podium, but the “Flying Dutchman” didn’t let it keep him down.

And don’t forget about double Olympic medallist David Belyavskiy of Russia. Belyavskiy is a five-time European champion proficient on both pommel horse and parallel bars. At last year’s world championships, he achieved silver in both.

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