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Favourites of swimming Gregorio Paltrinieri: Unbeatable in the 1500m freestyle?

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22-year-old Gregorio Paltrinieri has won plenty of medals both on long and short course events in recent years, and he even plans to try the 10km open water race in the future. At the 2017 FINA World Championships, however, he will still concentrate on the 1500m freestyle as defending Olympic and World champion.

Massimiliano Rosolino, Filippo Magnini, Luca Marin or Federica Pellegrini: some of those fantastic Italian swimmers who have been dominating the discipline over the last recent decades. Gregorio Paltrinieri is a great successor of them, since he is the king of the men’s 1500m freestyle event at the moment.

The Carpi-born Italian began swimming at an early age, specializing in breaststroke until the age of 12. However, he soon converted to freestyle, specializing in the longer pool distances.

His first big international success came at the 2011 European Junior Championships in Belgrade, where he won the 1500m gold and the 800m bronze medals. A couple of months later he almost did the same at the World Junior Championships in Lima, but finally he came in second in the 1500m event.

At the 2012 European Championships Paltrinieri won gold ahead of two domestic swimmers, Gergő Kis and Gergely Gyurta. He won a silver medal in the 1500m freestyle at the 2012 World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, but was promoted to gold when Danish winner Mads Glaesner was stripped of his medal after testing positive for a prohibited substance earlier in the competition. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the decision as Glaesner had tested negative for all banned substances following the 1500m freestyle event. Paltrinieri reverted back to being winner of the silver medal. (insidethegames.biz, 04 Feb 2014)

He took part in a FINA World Championships in 2013 for the first time in his career, and he won bronze in the 1500m freestyle event. In 2014 the Italian collected more gold medals at the European Championships (50m) and at the World Short Course Championships. At the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan he finished second in the 800m freestyle behind his great rival Sun Yang, but he won the gold medal in the 1500m, where Sun did not take part despite having qualified for the final with the second best time after Paltrinieri.

The World record holder over 1500m freestyle on long course is Sun Yang (since the 2012 Olympics), but this distance has been dominated by Paltrinieri since 2014. He also added a gold medal to his tally at the 2015 European Short Course Championships in Netanya, setting a new World record, and he was shining in 2016 on long course as well: he triumphed both at the European Championships in London and at the Rio Olympics. The exception was the World Short Course Championships in Windsor, where he finished second behind Korean Park Tae-hwan.

‘Setting the World record will definitely be one of the goals that I will try to achieve in the current season’ - Paltrinieri told FINA Media, looking forward to the months ahead which will culminate in the FINA World Championships in Budapest this July.

‘The timing? No hurry. Possibly this season. Or the next.’

Paltrinieri has announced recently that he would try the 10km open water event as well. He plans to take part in the Israeli leg of the LEN European Open Water Swimming Cup and the Summer Universiade in August. He wants to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but at the 2017 FINA World Championships he will still concentrate on the 1500m freestyle in the brand new Dagaly Aquatics Arena.

GREGORIO PALTRINIERI

Born: Carpi (Italy), 5 September, 1994

Medal record:

Long course:

Olympic champion (2016 Rio de Janeiro, 1500m freestyle)

World champion (2015 Kazan, 1500m freestyle); silver medallist (2015 Kazan, 800m freestyle); bronze medallist (2013 Barcelona, 1500m freestyle)

Five-time European champion (2012 Debrecen, 1500m freestyle; 2014 Berlin, 800m and 1500m freestyle; 2016 London, 800m and 1500m freestyle); silver medallist (2012 Debrecen, 800m freestyle)

Short course:

World champion (2014 Doha, 1500m freestyle); two-time silver medallist (2012 Istanbul, 1500m freestyle; 2016 Windsor, 1500m freestyle)

Two-time European champion (2012 Chartres, 1500m freestyle; 2015 Netanya, 1500m freestyle)