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2017 News Press Releases

Europeans dominate the FINA Best Athletes Gala

European athletes took more than half of the FINA Best Athletes awards at the FINA World Aquatics Gala held in Sanya (CHN). Seven of the thirteen trophies landed in the hands of the stars from the Old Continent. LEN President Paolo Barelli praised the continent’s athletes and the efforts of the respective National Federations in Europe.

As usual, European athletes’ names dominate this year’s awardees’ list in the six disciplines. The FINA World Aquatics Gala – also known as Soirée des Etoiles – was held on Saturday in Sanya, China, where the best athletes of 2017 were celebrated. The winners were declared based on a scoring criteria which award points for results obtained at FINA Events. As usual, the top performances at this year’s World Championships in Budapest were the determining factors in the race for the trophies, though in some cases the outcome of other events also influenced the final rankings.

Europe clinched seven awards, the Americas got four while Oceania and Asia captured one apiece. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom became the best female swimmer, Britain’s superstar Tom Daley was the best male diver. Europeans made a complete sweep in synchro as Svetlana Kolesnichenko of Russia won among the women while Italy’s Giorgio Minisini and Russia’s Aleksandr Maltsev were tied for the men’s trophy. Marc-Antoine Olivier of France came first in the men’s open water (fellow Frenchwoman Aurelie Muller was just passed by Ana Marcela Cunha when the Brazilian finished third in the overall of the World Cup series). The world champion Croatian team clinched the title in the men’s water polo.

“LEN is immensely proud of our European stars who were duly rewarded for their outstanding performances this year” LEN President and FINA Vice-President Paolo Barelli commented the results. “This occasion serves as another proof why Europe is the most successful continent among all in aquatics. Our National Federations are running highly professional and effective programmes in all disciplines so this continent has the biggest depth in talent. This is always mirrored whenever major events or galas like this are held. Congratulations for each and every winner, whichever continent they represent – the best athletes and their respective coaches deserve all credits for their commitment and dedication.”


FINA Best Athletes 2017


Men: Caeleb Dressel (USA)

Women: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE)


Men: Tom Daley (GBR)

Women: Shi Tingmao (CHN)

High Diving

Men: Steve LoBue (USA)

Women: Rhiannan Iffland (AUS)


Men (tied): Giorgio Minisini (ITA), Aleksandr Maltsev (RUS)

Women: Svetlana Kolesnichenko (RUS)

Open Water Swimming

Men: Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA)

Women: Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA)

Water Polo

Men: Croatia

Women: United States