Baku, June 24, AZERTAC
Remarkable teenage swimmer Arina Openysheva may live up to her ‘Mini Michael Phelps' nickname by having a crack at winning eight gold medals in the Baku 2015 European Games, Russian coach Lidia Kapkova said on Wednesday.
The 16-year-old, who already has a 4x100m freestyle gold from Tuesday night’s action, is the fastest qualifier for the 400m freestyle final on Wednesday with a time of four minutes 14.95 seconds.
On what could prove a night of triple gold for the Siberian youngster, Openysheva will contest the 400m freestyle and 100m freestyle finals 45 minutes apart, and could also be drafted in to the mixed 4x100m freestyle final.
Kapkova, general manager for the Russian team, said it was possible Openysheva could also go in the 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay and both the women’s and mixed 4x100m medley relays.
Asked if she felt the youngster, who won eight golds at the 2013 European Youth Olympic festival in Utrecht, could again cope with the stresses of such a tough programme over five days, Kapkova said: "It should not be a problem for her.
"She’s always been competing in many more competitions than most. Some athletes are like this. For example, Michael Phelps competed in many competitions, winning eight gold medals in the Olympics in Beijing.
"Arina can handle many events, too. She’s trained very hard and is equipped mentally and physically to do multiple races. We identify what motivates athletes and how they will behave amid all the pressures and the fame that comes with being a leading athlete.
"She has a good character and is very level-headed to go with her abilities, but we can’t say anything about how good she is going to be in the future."
Fellow Russian Maria Astashkina, gold medallist in the 50m breaststroke on Tuesday, qualified quickest for the semi-finals of the women's 200m breaststroke in 2:25.54.
Great Britain's Duncan Scott qualified quickest for the men's 100m freestyle semi-finals in 50.24 seconds.