Thomas Ceccon won the men’s 100 metre backstroke at swimming’s European Championships on Wednesday, claiming his third gold medal of the event.
Italian Ceccon continued his country’s strong performance by finishing in 51.21 seconds, just 0.03sec ahead of Greece’s Apostolos Christou.
World champion at the discipline, Ceccon has also won the 50m butterfly and was in the winning team for the 4x100m freestyle in Rome.
The Italians have bagged 12 golds from 34 medals overall, placing them clear at the top of the standings.
“I wanted to pace myself and then finish faster but I ended up starting off quickly and finishing it that way. And now I’m really the world number one,” said Ceccon.
Britain’s Ben Proud came out on top in the 50m freestyle to follow up on his gold in the same discipline at the World Championships in June.
The 27-year-old, who also won the 50m butterfly at the recent Commonwealth Games in England, pipped home hope Leonardo Deplano by only 0.02sec on his way to victory.
His latest win is further proof of his return to form after a devastating fifth place in the 50m freestyle at the Olympics last year.
“This is a great achievement… After the Olympics it took me a while to face my demons and realise that I needed to make some changes,” said Proud.
“I had three goals — Worlds, Commonwealth, Europeans — and now it all really feels surreal.”
World champion Ruta Meilutyte claimed the women’s 50m breaststroke, denying another Italian, world record holder Benedetta Pilato, with a time of 29.59sec.
Former Olympic champion Meilutyte, 25, returned to competition in December after being banned for two years for missing three doping tests.