Abbie Wood says she turned on the burners to make sure of success as she picked up Team GB’s first of three gold medals in the pool at the European Games in Baku.
Wood’s gold in the 400m individual medley got things going for Britain before Holly Hibbott followed suit in the 800m freestyle and the men’s 4x100m relay team sealed victory with a dominant swim.
Wood qualified fastest for the 400m individual medley final in a time of 4:45.61 with Italy’s Ilaria Cusinato second and Britain’s Georgia Coates third.
But Wood knew that she would have to improve on that time if she wanted to take gold and, in the process, be crowned European junior champion.
In the end she did just that as she stormed to victory 2.04 seconds ahead of Cusinato with an impressive 4:41.97 – Coates missing out on a medal in fourth behind Serbia’s Anja Crevar.
And Wood admits it was a strange feeling to climb out of the pool as the European Games champion.
“It’s my first European medal so I’m really excited about it. It’s a surreal feeling,” she said.
“I was pretty confident from the heats but it hurt so I wasn’t sure if I could go any faster. Yet I knew everyone would step it up for the final so I had to as well and the pressure was on.
“The 400m IM is so different from the 50m and my weakness is definitely the backstroke so I always know that I have to bring it back on the breaststroke, which is my strongest, and I try to get a good start with my fly.”
While Wood was busy sealing gold Holly Hibbott was watching on and gathering inspiration for her 800m freestyle race.
And the 15-year-old also managed to produce the goods as she swam 8:39.02 to edge out Russia’s Anastasiia Kirpichnikova by 0.71 seconds and seal the team’s second gold of the day.
“I didn’t really expect to win gold but I was hoping that I could do it,” said Hibbott. “I saw Abbie earlier and she did really well I was so happy for her.
“I think this is definitely the highlight of my career so far and it inspires me to go on in the future and do more.”
And the Brits weren’t finished there as the men’s 4x100m relay team of Duncan Scott, Martyn Walton, Daniel Speers and Cameron Kurle took the third gold of the day.
The quartet led from the off with Scott earning an early advantage and Kurle bringing it home in 3:19.38 – Italy second 0.81 behind and Russia third.
And Scott believes the team stepped up when they needed to and was delighted with an unexpected gold.
“It feels amazing, it’s unexpected but we knew we had a medal in us,” he said.
“The boys came in tonight and we all stepped up and delivered when it mattered which is really good.”
There was one more medal still to come for Britain as the women’s foursome of Darcy Deakin, Madeleine Crompton, Hannah Featherstone and Coates took 4x100m bronze.
The quartet were second for the majority of the race but couldn’t hold off the challenge of The Netherlands who came back on the final 100m to steal silver.
“We are absolutely ecstatic with that performance, we went in there third and we thought we could get a medal but words can’t describe how happy we are,” said Deakin.
“It’s so nerve racking, you know you have to put in the best performance you can but then you have to rely on the other girls.
“Rather than a 4x100 we treat it as a 400 where we all swim together and for each other.
“There is good support in the crowd and it’s amazing that they have taken the time to come out here and support us and we just want to swim well and keep winning medals.”
© Sportsbeat 2015