Tomblin's title highlights historic European Champs for Aquatics GB artistic swimmers

14 Jun 2024

Ranjuo Tomblin secured a historic European title and Olympians Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe impressed again as Aquatics GB's artistic swimmers enjoyed Britain's most successful European Championships for four decades in Belgrade over the past week. 

On top of Tomblin's sensational Men's Free Solo victory on Thursday and a silver in the Men's Tech Solo earlier in the meet, there were a pair of silvers for Olympic-bound duo Thorpe and Shortman across the Women's Tech Duet and Free Duet events, further strengthening their momentum heading into Games time, on the back of historic medal moments at the World Championships in February and gold at the recent Olympic test event in Paris. 

There were also bronzes in the Mixed Free Duet and Mixed Tech Duet for Tomblin and Beatrice Crass, meaning Ranjuo ended the campaign with an eye-catching four medals to his name. The curtain then came down with bronze in the Free Team event.

Overall, Britain's tally of seven medals is their highest ever at a European Championships, and it is the latest symbol of the artistic swimming programme going from strength to strength after last year's haul of three medals at the European Games and consistent showings on the international stage across solo, duet and team events. 

The highlight in Belgrade came with Ranjuo's moment of history in the Men's Free Solo contest, when his near-flawless routine brought him 191.0293 points, nearly eight clear of Italy's multiple World Championship medal-winner Giorgio Minisini in second. 

"I just can't believe it, to hear 'European champion' next to my name is an unbelievable feeling, it's not something I ever thought would happen in my life," said Tomblin.

"I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me, my family, my coaches Paola and Stefania, Aquatics GB, I am just really happy. I can't believe it, it's going to take some days to settle in but it's amazing. 

"I wasn't coming into this competition really expecting anything, I just wanted to swim my best because I had the back injury at the beginning of the season - so to be able to do that and beat some of my idols, it's just an unbelievable feeling.  I have worked so hard, been training so hard, made so many sacrifices at home with school and with my social life and everything. I'm so happy that it has finally paid off. 

Kate Shortman Izzy Thorpe Tech Duet SILVER European Champs 2024
Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe celebrate with their Tech Duet silver medals

"I hope that I'll pave the way for other boys in the future, and I'm thankful to all the men before me who have fought for this opportunity for me and all the other boys that are able to compete today."

Tomblin collected a clean sweep of medal colours in Serbia, having opened with Men's Tech Solo silver on day two and then teamed up with mixed synchro partner Crass as they backed up last year's pair of European medals with two bronzes across the Mixed Tech Duet and Mixed Free Duet this time around.

That means the last 12 months has brought four European medals and the valuable experience of a historic debut on the World Championship stage in Fukuoka for the young pairing. 

Meanwhile, Shortman and Thorpe continued their final preparations for their second Olympic Games with another two-medal haul, just as they did at February's Worlds in Doha. Where it was silver and bronze at that event, the Bristol-based duo took silver in both Tech Duet and Free Duet at this European Championships, closing with their Big Ben-themed tech routine on Thursday. 

"If someone told us 12 months ago that you'd come second at Europeans twice, it would literally be a dream come true. We've trained so hard and I'm really happy that we have come second, but at the end of the day, it's not the end of our season - we've still got the Olympics to go, so we are still fighting for that place at the Olympics," said Thorpe afterwards as the final Paris prep now kicks into action. 

The final GB artistic medal of the meet came in the final event on Friday. The eight of Lily Halasi, Florence Blinkhorn, Robyn Swatman, Amelie Williams, Sophie Rowney, Holly Hughes, Eve Young and Eleanor Blinkhorn combined to fantastic effect, a points tally of 219.0228 earning them bronze in the Free Team contest. 

That result meant the Aquatics GB team left Belgrade with medals across solo, duet, mixed duet and team events, the first time that has ever happened for a British team at this level. 

Ranjuo Tomblin Beatrice Crass walkout European Champs 2024
Ranjuo Tomblin (left) and Beatrice Crass at the beginning of a routine
Artistic Team Free Bronze Euro 2024 Belgrade
The Aquatics GB artistic swimming team to win Free Team bronze