The heat is on at European Games as swimmers hit the pool

3x3 basketball and badminton teams also compete as temperatures rise in Baku

Temperatures continue to soar in Azerbaijan, rising above 35 degrees yesterday, which of course meant spending the morning down by the pool. As in the Baku Aquatics Centre.

Another purpose-built venue for these European Games – recently completed in just 18 months – it was also where the swimming competitions got underway yesterday. As in a European junior championship.

It’s one of the events being staged here strictly for development purposes, which is actually ideal for Irish swimming. There is strong crop of developing Irish swimmers coming through right now, and many of them are getting to experience the big-stage atmosphere of these Games.

The best of them on day one were Mona McSharry and Emma Reid, who made the semi-finals in the 50m breaststroke and 200m butterfly respectively.


McSharry was clocked at 32.84 in her heat, yet couldn't quite improve on that later on, and placed 15th overall. The Donegal swimmer will be also be out in today's heats of the 100m breaststroke.

Despite swimming a new personal best in her 200m butterfly semi-final, Reid didn’t progress to the final, either, her time of two minutes 20.05 placing her 14th overall. She also goes later in the week in the 100m butterfly.

3x3 basketball

Just behind the Baku Aquatics Centre, they’ve set up the temporary basketball courts for the new 3x3 competition, a sort of street version of the game, played in front of one net (and with four players, who can switch accordingly, over the 10 minutes).

The Irish team of Orla O'Reilly, Suzanne Maguire, plus Grainne and Niamh Dwyer have plenty of experience, yet just lost their group C game against Slovenia, 14-10.

Two outside shots from Dwyer narrowed the gap to a single point with 32 seconds remaining before a rapid response from the sixth seeds pushed them through.

“It’s an encouraging first game, but we’re disappointed,” said captain Maguire. “I think towards the end of the game when we were getting things right, we knew we could have had them. But we didn’t do it right for long enough and 3x3 is not forgiving.

“You run out of time very quickly and we did today,” she said.

It was good contest nonetheless, although they’re up next against a very strong Spanish women’s team.

Back at the Baku's Sports Hall, Scott Evans continued his unbeaten start in the men's badminton singles, although not as easily as his first match. He lost the first set to Yuhan Tan from Belgium, 14-21, but then promptly avenged that in the second, 21-13, before winning the third set 21-13, too.

The sister and brother pair of Chloe Magee and Sam Magee, who also got off to a winning start against Czech Republic in their mixed doubles on Monday, continued that form yesterday with another convincing 21-8, 21-10 win over the pairing of Povilas Bartusis and Vytaute Fomkinaite from Lithuania.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics