Ukraine’s Danylo Sapunov has ended the season as the top ranked European athlete for the second year in a row.
The 2011 No.1, defended his title, and once again finished ahead of protégé and compatriot Yegor Martynenko, who finished third in the rankings.
The European rankings are accumulative and reflect the results from all European Cup, Premium European Cup races and European Championships in 2012, as well as a percentage of points from last year.
Ukrainian duo Sapunov and Martynenko were the top two in 2011 but their dominance was broken this year by Ivan Vasiliev (RUS). The Russian’s victory in Alanya was enough to propel him into second place in the rankings.
Sapunov’s 7th place finish in Alanya was enough to keep him at the top of the rankings, after another consistent year that delivered podiums and top ten finishes.
Sapunov’s European season began with a 17th place finish in Quarteira. He could only finish 18th at the European Championships in Eilat before his form improved in the second half of the year.
A third place finish in Geneva was the turning point for three final top eight finishes in Penza, Karlovy Vary and Alanya. The Ukrainian also represented his country at the London Olympics, finishing in 42nd place.
Despite finishing on top of the rankings, Sapunov admits to a frustrating year.
He said: “I’m not satisfied with my performances this year. In London I wanted top 20 but I didn’t go how I wanted it. However, I’m very happy that I was able to keep the lead (in the rankings). It is a success for me and my country.”
Sapunov will race in Asia before relaxing into the New Year and he is determined to return in 2013 and win some European Cups.
Vasiliev’s surge into second spot is on the strength of big performances in the important races.
With double points available at the Premium European Cup in Alanya, Vasiliev’s victory meant he leapfrogged those above him into second place.
His other European ranked performance came in Eilat at the European Championships, where he finished third.
For the second year running, Yegor Martynenko made the top three in the end of year rankings but he was pipped into second place by Vasiliev's late surge.
However, the Ukrainian wasn’t too disappointed: “I'm happy to occupy such a high place two years in a row, it is a great achievement for me,” he said.
Photo: Rich Cruse/ITU