Israel won two bronze medals in the European Swimming Championships in Budapest.
Guy Barnea finished third in the 50 metres backstroke and Gal Nevo took bronze in the 400 meters medley. These were the first medals won by Israeli swimmers since Yoav Gat won bronze in the 200 metres backstroke in 2000.
Barnea’s medal in a time of 25.04 seconds came as a huge surprise. The 22-year-old has performed poorly in recent months and earlier in the week could only reach the semi-finals of the 100 meters backstroke, which is considered his stronger distance.
Barnea insisted he never lost hope of a medal. He said: “In the European Championships in Eindhoven in 2008 I finished fourth just 0.04 seconds short of a medal. So I always knew I was capable of a medal with a little improvement.”
Gal Nevo, who finished sixth in the World Championships in Rome last summer and had the 11th best time in the Beijing Olympics, was considered Israe’'s best bet for a medal. Nevo finished the 400 meters medley in 4:15;10 four seconds short of his personal best in Rome last year of 4:11;51 which would have earned him silver in Budapest.
Nevo said: “I swim 80 kilometers a week and this is the reward for all the hard work.