Swimming: Simmonds strikes European gold as Spofforth loses out in Budapest

BEVERLEY'S Lizzie Simmonds earned the bragging rights over compatriot Gemma Spofforth in Budapest as she produced a stunning performance to claim European Championship gold in the 200m backstroke.

The talented teenager, who had the fastest time in the world this year heading into Budapest, led a British 1-2 and in the process secured a revenge win over Spofforth.

At the World Championships last year in Rome, Spofforth finished fourth in the 200m final, just one place and the width of a fingernail ahead of Simmonds – but the youngster had her revenge in Hungary.

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This was always set to be the Battle of Britain – Simmonds arriving in Budapest as the fastest in the world over 200m, while Spofforth is the reigning world champion over 100m.

"I'm really pleased with that performance," said Simmonds, who touched home in 2:07.04 minutes – 1.21 seconds ahead of Spofforth.

"Coming into this meet, the heats were all about getting to the final for me but once I was in the final, I really wanted to perform – that was a big swim.

"I tried to conserve as much energy as possible for the final and I tried to take it out fast in the final and then on the final length I didn't know where I was.

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"I knew that Gemma was a couple of lanes away but I just kept pushing for the line and I touched home, looked at the scoreboard and was in disbelief," she added.

Meanwhile, Joe Roebuck is entering the unknown ahead of tonight's 200m medley final at the European Championships after admitting it was touch and go he would actually qualify for the medal showdown in Budapest.

The 25-year-old Rotherham swimmer has made no bones about the fact that the European Championships are playing second fiddle to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October this year.

But after a promising qualifying swim, Roebuck went quicker again in his semi-final, finishing in second in 1:59.74 – good enough for fifth overall just over a second behind fastest qualifier Hungarian Laszlo Czech.

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"In my first swim I didn't really know what to expect, I just dived in and gave it my best and

went in swinging," added Roebuck.

The nation's leading energy supplier British Gas is the Principal Partner of British Swimming, and have pledged 15m to support the sport at all levels –from paddling pool to podium. For more information visit www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming