LONDON (AFP) –
Hot favourites Russia won synchronised swimming team gold on Friday to maintain their total domination of the sport stretching back to the Sydney Games in 2000.
The Russians, with a total score of 197.030, were completing their fourth consecutive Games clean sweep after lifting the duet title on Tuesday.
China, third in the duet, took second, with Spain claiming the bronze medal.
Russia’s triumphant team comprised Anastasia Davydova, winning her fifth Olympic gold, Maria Gromova, Natalia Ishchenko, Elvira Khasyanova, Daria Korobova, Alexandra Patskevich, Svetlina Romashina and Anzhelika Timanina.
“I am very happy that we managed to get the result with the girls and that we carried on the tradition of synchronised swimming, winning four Olympic Games in a row,” said Davydova.
“This was the hardest medal for me to win and the happiest. I finish my career on a peak, five golds is a record.”
On the secret of Russia’s success she added: “We train children from three years of age at school. By 15 they are already ahead and competing.”
Expanding on their choice of music Patskevich said: “The theme was a lost world like a big spiders net, we wanted people to get the goosebumps.”
Russia went into the freestyle programme leading after Thursday’s technical routine, and made sure of gold by scoring 98.930 to add to Thursday’s 98.100.
Despite another polished performance, the Chinese, lying second overnight, were not able to dislodge their Russian rivals from the top of the podium, coming in with a score of 194.010.
“We are still some distance from Russia. Maybe gold will be our long-term aim. Russia is our motivation,” said China’s Japanese coach Masayo Imura.
The last time Russia failed to win the gold at a major championship was at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games when they finished fourth to the United States, not represented in this final.
Friday’s free routine placed the emphasis on artistic impression, with Davydova and company seducing the capacity crowd at the Aquatics Centre and more importantly the 14 judges sitting poolside.
The Russians celebrated by giving their civvie-clothed coaches an impromptu ducking.
For Ishchenko and Romashina this was the second time they had had a gold medal hung around their necks after claiming the duets title 72 hours earlier.
Davydova, Gromova and Khasyanova meanwhile were celebrating becoming the first synchronised swimmers to win three team golds.
Spain’s routine had an ocean theme about it, their costumes resembling fish scales with coach Elisabet Fernandez Marti revealing: “It took one hour for the girls to dress.
“We used a special superglue to stick them (the costumes and caps) to the skin”
In a bid to get an edge in the water the Spaniards had got the clippers out, shaving their heads
“We were shocked when the Spanish team cut their hair, but they did everything they could for the victory,” said Russia’s Ischenko.
Canada took fourth with fifth-placed Japan failing to achieve a medal in synchronised swimming for the first time since the sport was introduced in 1984.
Japan’s coach, Mayumi Uchida, reflected: “We have trained with an aim at 95 points. We are still far from there, but we have improved since the world championships and the qualifier.”
Great Britain came in sixth of the eight finalists on their first appearance in the team event.
“On the whole, I think it has gone incredibly well. We have definitely put synchro out there, and on the map.” said British team member Jennifer Knobbs.