August 10 - Britain claimed a superb one-two in the 200 metres backstroke tonight, after Lizzie Simmonds won her battle with compatriot Gemma Spofforth at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest.

Rarely has so much hype surrounded a women's race at the Europeans, with Spofforth the reigning 100m backstroke world champion, while Simmonds owned the world leading time in the 200m backstroke in 2010.

It was Simmonds who proved the stronger in the final as she got a superb start to lead through the first 50m, after which she never looked back.

At the halfway mark she was inside European record pace and, even though she could not reach that landmark, Simmonds still powered through for the gold medal in a time of 2:07.04s.

"I'm really, really pleased," Simmonds said.

"Coming into this competition, the heats and semis were a process to ensure I made the final, I was conserving a bit of energy.

"Tonight was my big swim, I really went for it and it paid off.

"Coming down that last leg, I wasn't entirely sure if I was ahead or not, there was a lane between me and Gemma.

"But I gave it everything hoping I could hang on.

"I touched the wall and saw the scoreboard in disbelief."

Spofforth can take some satisfaction with silver after she had plenty of work to do with 100m left.

Showing great endurance, Spofforth reeled in her rivals to claim second by over two seconds in a time of 2:08.25s.

"I wasn't really focusing on this meet as much as [the Commonwealth Games in] October but, to be honest, I wanted to win.

"There's a lot of disappointment there but a one-two is great, and great for the team.

"I wouldn't want to be beaten by anyone else but it's great to be beaten by Lizzie."

There was bronze joy for Liam Tancock (pictured) in the men's 100m backstroke, despite the fact that the Briton initially failed to even qualify for the final.

Tancock was the ninth fastest qualifier for tonight's final, but Austria's defending champion Markus Rogan pulled out, offering the Briton a medal chance through the back door.

Tancock took full advantage, flying out of the blocks to touch at half way in second place, and he clung on for a hugely welcome bronze medal in a time of 53.86.

France's Camille Lacourt took gold in a European record 52.11.

"Outside lane, outside smoker - fate was on my side when Markus Rogan pulled out, I jumped at the chance and sometimes you have to, even though I'm not fully prepared to be racing fast here," Tancock said.

"Two years back I came to the Europeans and just missed out on the final, then four days later I broke the world record.

"Don't beat yourself up when you don't do well, just enjoy it."