In the sole final of this sixth day of competition in Doha, Giorgio Minisi of Italy returned to the top of the podium, clinching the gold medal in the men’s free solo. This is Minisini’s fourth World title, first in the solo, and 10th World medal overall.
Earlier in the day, 38 nations participated in the duet free preliminaries. There, Chinese twins Wang Liuyi and Wang Qianyi claimed the top spot and head into the final as the favorites for yet another gold.
Before getting into today’s events, there has been additional developments regarding the women’s free solo final. After the sixth place of Austria‘s Vasiliki Alexandri, the Austrian Swimming Federation (OSV) has filed an official protest regarding the results and judgment of the routine. As of February 7 and according to the federation, the protest is still underway, and “the results and scores must be reviewed again by an arbitration panel.”
FREE SOLO FINAL – MEN
Giorgio Minisini of Italy is back at the top of the World, seven months after a knee surgery that forced him to watch the Fukuoka World Championships from home. Swimming to Andrea Bocelli’s “Hallelujah”, the Italian and reigning European Champion performed his heart out and scored 210.1355 for the gold and his first World title in this event.
After suffering three basemarks in the preliminaries, Minisini had considerably decreased his Degree of Difficulty (DD) by 5.35, and also only ultimately performed six hybrids. That certainly gave him a bit more (breathing) time to really focus on his performance and skills. And, it showed. The 27-year-old looked calmer, crisper, more confident, precise and in-tune with his choreography than in any other solo routine we’d seen so far from him in Doha.
“I am happy for the victory, for singing the anthem as I dreamed of since I was a child when I used to climb on the bed, wrapped in the tricolor flag, imagining I was on the top step of the podium,” he said. “After the preliminary, I had kind of put the idea of a medal aside. But my coach didn’t and had asked me for a win. I hope she was pleased tonight, and also because I particularly suffered from the competition. From this experience, I realized that I still have a lot of work to do, however, on both the athletic side and the mental side, and the mental management of the competition. That is also why this is an important medal. It is a medal that I dedicate to the team, because when we win, the credit always belongs to the whole group.”
Defending champion Dennis Gonzalez Boneu of Spain had to settle for silver this time around with a total of 196.2750. Although only 19, this is already Gonzalez Boneu’s fourth World Championships medal. Swimming to “I feel like I’m drowning” by Two Feet, a song he had already performed to in 2022, the Spaniard also further focused on his performance. He ultimately received the highest artistic impression score of the day.
“In these World Championships, we opted to go strong with the artistic impression of my routines,” he said. “It is something that can make an important difference in the final score, and also makes the routine look good and spectators can enjoy it. This was the best music to express myself, and I think also the crowd enjoyed, which makes me happy. With the new rules, you do not have a beautiful routine and you cannot enjoy it as much like in previous years. But I think I can do both: to do it well and to feel good with it.”
Gustavo Sanchez of Colombia won his second bronze medal of these World Championships with a score of 192.0812. Silver medalist in 2023 in this event, Sanchez came back strong after incurring five basemarks in the preliminaries. He swam to “Birth” by Thirty Seconds to Mars, and although he still received one basemark tonight, it was still enough for a podium finish.
“It took a lot of suffering for me to get here on the podium,” he said. “I had to perform a very tough routine, which needs a lot of energy and it was difficult to complete it well. I had a basemark, but I am overjoyed with what we succeeded to do. I didn’t have a high score in the preliminaries, it came in the morning right after the technical solo final, and I had only managed to sleep for four hours. So I saved some extra energy for this final. It feels great to become the first Colombian with two medals in the same World Aquatics Championships, but hopefully this won’t be my last one in Doha. We still have the free mixed duet, so we will try to make it three.”
Yang Shuncheng of China had qualified to the final in first place, but suffered two basemarks in this final and dropped to fourth. He does leave Doha as the World Champion in the men’s technical solo. Surely, the 16-year will undoubtedly make more appearances throughout this season, especially with the World Junior Championships scheduled for the end of the summer.
FREE DUET PRELIMINARY
38 duets lined-up to take part in this long free duet preliminary round. At the end of the day, Wang Liuyi and Wang Qianyi of China claimed the top spot with a total of 250.8438 on their “Cheetah” routine. The twins won the technical duet event a few days ago in Doha, and will look to stay in this gold-medal position after claiming silver at last year’s World Championships.
Bregje de Brouwer and Noortje de Brouwer of the Netherlands sit in second place with a score of 244.2439. The twins unveiled a brand new “Van Gogh” choreography, as they wanted to showcase a theme that was very representative of Dutch culture.
“We chose Van Gogh because of his artwork, especially ‘The Starry Night’ with the swirling patterns in the sky and the way the stars seem to twinkle reminded us of the multiple incredible rotations of our choreography.”
The judges clearly enjoyed this choreography as well, awarding the pair the second-highest artistic impression score of the event.
Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe of Great Britain finished third with their “Rising Phoenix” choreography and a score of 237.1042.
The other nations qualified to the final are Spain, Canada, Greece, Ukraine, Italy, Israel, South Korea, Aruba and Colombia. It will be the first World Championships final for both Aruba and Colombia in the women’s duet event.
Maryna and Vladyslava Aleksiiva of Ukraine unveiled a new choreography, and the start of it is honestly, pretty genius and a must-watch in the final. The twins start their routine swimming to “Up down” by Eric Los and Thierry Los, with the lyrics of this Disco-Dance-workout song literally matching their up, down, left, and right movements in the water. A brilliant and funny way to make the music match the rules.
The free duet final is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, February 8 at 2:00 pm local.
Although we will have to wait until the end of the team competition on Friday to know exactly how many duet quotas are available to Paris, the results of this final will already give us a better understanding as to who has realistic chances.
Pairs (not already qualified) that can secure a top three finish in combined scores after tomorrow’s final will be guaranteed a spot to the Olympic Games this summer, no matter the outcome of the team qualification.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
Cover photo: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
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