On the second to last day of artistic swimming at the World Championships, China successfully defended its World title in the free team event, scoring 329.1687 with its “Gravitation” routine to earn the gold.
In the morning, 15 pairs took part in the free mixed duet preliminary round. Shi Haoyu and Cheng Wentao of China scored 221.1023 and head into tomorrow’s final in the top spot.
FREE TEAM FINAL
After yesterday’s basemark fest in the free team preliminary, many of the qualified finalists refrained from making any drastic changes to their routines. All countries decided to either stick with the same DD or to slightly decrease it by a few tenths, likely making minor changes to the level of Rotations declared. Only Greece very slightly increased its DD by 0.10.
Unfortunately, the base marks were again omnipresent in this final, with only China, Japan and Australia coming out unscathed.
The team of China successfully defended its World title in the event with a score of 329.1687 for their “Gravitation” routine. The Chinese had qualified in first, but slightly decreased their Degree of Difficulty (DD) since the preliminary by 0.55 to ensure the athletes would enjoy this final performance a bit more. Their total of DD of 47.35 was still the highest of the evening and it was enough to secure the gold.
“I feel proud of my athletes and how they handled the pressure,” head coach Zhang Xiaohuan said. “Especially after the technical team, but they were fully focused tonight. It was a lot of pressure, and we don’t want our athletes to feel fear of the competition or of the high DD. We actually worked on a more difficult routine at home, but we had to reduce our difficulty when we came here and go for a safer routine. We learned a lot from the other teams, and we will continue to strive to find the balance between high DD and high execution.”
Japan had qualified to the final in third, but managed a basemark-less performance in the final to win silver with its “Chess” routine. The Japanese’s DD had dropped by 0.15 to reach a total of 45.85, and the strategy paid off as they grabbed silver with a score of 317.8085. They notably received the highest artistic impression score of this final, 126.7500.
Ukraine won its first medal of these World Championships with its “Team of the Brave” choreography, clinching bronze with a score of 256.2415. The Ukrainians had qualified to the final in fourth place, although like almost everyone with base marks. They did receive two base marks again in the final, which dropped their DD from 43.45 to 34.50, but it was ultimately enough for a place on the podium.
“Finally!” Vladyslava Aleksiiva said. “This medal is really unexpected because we had no hopes for this routine. So we are really happy about this, our first medal at these Championships. We wanted to show our best, do everything with no base marks. It didn’t happen tonight, like almost every country, but this is the first good feeling about these World Championships. Now, we will have holidays, rest mentally and physically. This was very hard this year, I think it was the hardest year for me.”
This podium is essentially a repeat of last year’s, only with Japan and Ukraine switching spots.
Spain had qualified to the final in second, but unfortunately had three base marks in the final on its “Aladdin” routine. The Spaniards had decided to stick to their DD of 46.70, the second-highest of this final but they ultimately finished fourth with a score of 249.6521.
Of note, Iris Tió competed 12 times at these World Championships across the solo, duet, and team events in both technical and free routines. She was the sole athlete to accomplish such a feat.
FREE MIXED DUET PRELIMINARY
15 nations took part in the free mixed duet preliminary in the morning. All pairs had already competed in the technical event earlier this week, except for Spain’s Mireia Hernandez who hadn’t swam yet in these World Championships. Only the duets of Belgium and Thailand managed a basemark-less performance in this preliminary round.
Shi Haoyu and Cheng Wentao of China had the highest declared DD of this preliminary round with 36.00. They ultimately scored 221.1023 for their “Romeo & Juliet” routine with one base mark on their third acrobatic, but still finished first. China had placed third at the 2022 World Championships, and is now in good position to claim its first world title in this event.
Dennis Gonzalez Boneu and Mireia Hernandez of Spain, the current European Champions in the event, had raised their DD since the European Championships by 0.65. In Fukuoka, they declared 32.60 on their “Angels & Demons” routine but received a base mark on a hybrid. They still finished second with 198.9042.
Eduard Kim and Nargiza Bolatova of Kazakhstan had the second-highest declared DD of this preliminary with 33.80. The two hadn’t actually competed in this free event since the Markham World Cup in March. In Fukuoka, they swam to music from the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and received 191.8354 to finish in third.
The other countries qualified to the final are Colombia, Mexico, Great Britain, Belgium, Serbia, Thailand, Peru, Korea and Chile.
Renaud Barral and Lisa Ingenito of Belgium increased their DD by 1.35 since the European Championships, aiming for a 21.30. They were one of only two mixed duets to not receive any base marks in this event. They scored 147.1521 for their “Anime” routine and qualified to their second final here in seventh place.
Similarly, Serbia’s Jelena Kontic and Ivan Martinovic had upped their DD by 1.45 since the European Championships on their “Cuban Dance” routine. Unfortunately, they had one base mark on their final hybrid, but their score of 143.0189 was still enough for eight place and another historical final for them and their country.
Thailand’s Kantinan Adisaisiributr and Voranan Toomchay had missed out on the technical mixed duet final, but thanks to a basemark-kess performance here, they placed ninth and will perform again tomorrow in the final.
Japan’s Sato Tomoka and Yotaro, the world champions in the technical event and 2022 silver medalists, appeared on the start list until the last minute but ultimately did not swim. According to the Japanese press, the duet withdrew because of Yotaro’s “poor physical health”.
The free mixed duet final will take place on Saturday, July 22 at 10:00 am local.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
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