China Clinches First Mixed Duet Gold, Mexico Secures First World Medal

The artistic swimming events at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka came to an end this morning with the free mixed duet final.

China’s Cheng Wentao and Shi Haoyu won their first mixed duet gold, while Mexico earned its first medal at the World Championships in artistic swimming.


Cheng and Shi won China’s first-ever mixed duet gold with a score of 225.1020 on their “Romeo & Juliet” routine. The two had last competed at a World Championships together back in 2019, where they had placed sixth. Last season, Shi won bronze with a different partner, but he and Cheng were reunited this year. 

The Chinese had declared the highest Degree of Difficulty of the field with a 35.75, and were one of only three duets to get fully credited for everything. 

Itzamary Gonzalez and Diego Villalobos made history by winning Mexico’s first-ever artistic swimming medal at a World Championships. Swimming to “La Llorona”, the Mexicans scored 192.5500 to win silver.

“We are really excited and happy because this is the first medal for Mexico at the World Championships,” Gonzalez said. “We were just crying of happiness. This feels really good, especially because it’s our first time swimming together this year and at a World Championships. It has been really hard with the changes of the rules, but we learned them very fast and we are very happy with this result.”

The two had qualified to the final after placing fifth in the preliminary round. They were the only pair to increase their DD significantly for this last event, declaring 30.50 vs. 29.35 in the prelim where they had two base marks. They did receive one base mark on their third acro today, which ultimately was less costly than in the prelim, and it ended up being enough for a historical podium finish.

The reigning European champions, Dennis Gonzalez Boneu and Mireia Hernandez of Spain, won bronze with a score of 183.4207 for their “Angels & Demons” routine. The Spaniards had declared the same DD of 32.60 as in the preliminary, but received two base marks on hybrids. 

Their strong performance earned them the highest artistic impression score of the day, and helped them finish third. This has been their first season swimming together, and the two have already made history for Spain.

“We are happy with our performance and proud of all the team’s work this year,” Hernandez said. “After the European Games and now with this medal at the World Championships, we keep going up and reaching new achievements. It was a long championship with a lot of emotions, but we are happy about our improvement this year.”

“We had two mistakes on the routine today but we completed our goal,” Gonzalez Boneu said. “We wanted to get a medal so we achieved that. I am so happy because I won three medals in the three routines I swam, which is incredible for my first World Championships.”

Gonzalez Boneu will indeed return to Spain with a full set of medals, but will quickly go on to the next meet. The 19-year-old is set to compete at the European Junior Championships in Portugal at the beginning of August.

Nargiza Bolatova and Eduard Kim of Kazakhstan had placed third in the preliminaries, but received four base marks in the final. They finished ninth with a score of 133.6979. Besides China, the only other pairs to not receive any base marks were Belgium, which placed seventh, and Thailand, which ranked eighth. 

The 2023 World Championships come to an end in Fukuoka, with 11 countries winning medals throughout the 11 artistic swimming events. While the season is over for the European countries, the race to the Paris Olympics continues for numerous teams. 

The next major senior competitions are the Asian Games in September, which serve as the Olympic qualifier for the Asian continent, and the Pan American Games in November, the Olympic qualifier for the American continent.


All photos: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia

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