Heavy rain forced the organisers to interrupt the programme twice and postpone the men’s 1,500m freestyle final to Sunday, was the dominant news on day 6 of the European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade.

The Greek delegation, however, had managed to shed tears of joy once again, courtesy of the sublime performance of Nora Drakos.

The 32-year-old athlete, who went to the Serbian capital for the 7th European Games of her career, looking for the medal she was missing, and will return to Patras with two silver medals, a formidable national record and a new bar for her fourth Olympic Games which begin at the end of July.

What Drakou did in the 50m freestyle was unprecedented and surpassed her performance for the medal in the 50m backstroke.

Drakou went to Belgrade with a personal best of 24.96, which she achieved six years ago at the 2018 event in Glasgow, when she ran the only two races of her career under 25 seconds.

In the qualifier she clocked 24.89, breaking Neri Niaguara’s national record. In the semi-final she went slower and barely qualified (8th) but in the final she “broke the timers”, finishing second in an unreal 24.59, missing out on the gold medal to Hungary’s Petra Senanski by just three hundredths of a second.

She also made the cut-off for the Olympics, ensuring that she will also run an individual race in Paris (she had already qualified as part of the 4x100m mixed team). All this at 32, after 14 years of almost uninterrupted participation in major events (she only missed the 2014 Europeans due to shoulder surgery), with injuries, difficulties and disappointments that would have made any other person give up long ago.

Drakou’s silver is Greece’s 12th medal at the Belgrade championships and the second in this event in the history of the event, after Niagwara’s bronze in 2012. Cypriot Kalia Antoniou took sixth place with 25.13.

Apostolos Siskos completed his excellent performance in Belgrade with a fifth place in the final of the 200m butterfly.

The 19-year-old swimmer, who won the silver medal in the 200m backstroke a few days ago, put in another good performance and finished in 1:56.44, just two hundredths of a second slower than the great personal best – and national K23 record – he achieved in the semi-final.

Greece dropped back to third place in the medal table, but this will most likely change again on Sunday, when Greece will be in contention for at least three medals. Two of them in the 100m backstroke, where Apostolos Christou and Vangelis Makrygiannis passed with the two best performances of the semi-finals and want to… improve their “1-3” in the 50m.

After a silver and two bronze medals at the previous European Championships, Christian Golomeev is setting his sights on the top of the podium in the 50m freestyle.

The 31-year-old Panathinaikos athlete was by far the fastest in the semi-finals of the event with 21.73 and will enter the final – his seventh in a row – as the favourite.

Stergios Bilas will be there, who with 22.10 took eighth place and secured qualification, having already celebrated a gold and a bronze medal in the event, in 50m butterfly and 4x100m freestyle respectively.

After her amazing performance in the 100m butterfly, winning the silver medal and reaching the qualifying mark for the Olympics, Georgia Damasioti secured her presence in a second final in Belgrade. The 21-year-old Ocean athlete placed fifth in the semi-finals of the 200m butterfly in 2:10.50 and will battle for another distinction tomorrow.

Marilia Drasidou took… momentum from the achievements of teammate Nora Drakos, and celebrated her maiden qualification to the finals of a major event.

With the first race of his career under two minutes, Daniel Yourtzidis secured his participation in a second final at the European Championships. The 22-year-old swimmer, who was fourth in the 400m medley on Monday (17/6), set a personal best in the semi-finals of the 200m medley individual medley with 1:59.71 and qualified, albeit in eighth place, for tomorrow’s final.

On the contrary, Andreas Vazaios did not make it, who was limited to 10th place with 2:00.53 and, after four consecutive finals in the event (and the title of European champion in 2016), this time he will not be able to be present.