Wang Liuyi and Wang Qianyi of China are golden again in Doha after clinching their fourth world title, and 10th overall, in the Qatari capital in the free duet final.
This event also had three guaranteed duet quotas on the line for the Paris Olympic Games. With China already qualified, these went to Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Spain, securing themselves a spot in duet in Paris no matter what happens in the team competition tomorrow.
In the free team preliminaries, team China continued to be impeccable and unbeatable, scoring 338.4981 for the top spot ahead of tomorrow’s final. As mentioned previously, that final will determine the rest of the team field for the Paris Games, and will likely lead to a few more duet places opening up as well.
FREE DUET FINAL
The duet competition is now over in Doha, and we now certainly have a better idea of what the Olympic duet field could potentially look like. Of course, we still do have to wait for the team competition to end to know the complete and official list. That said, the top three duets in combined (technical + free) scores in Doha were guaranteed a quota to the Paris Games, no matter what.
Ahead of this final, all pairs except those of South Korea and Colombia had upped their Degrees of Difficulties (DD). Ultimately, the rankings between the preliminaries and the final saw very little changes, with only Ukraine and Italy switching spots for the seventh and eighth places.
After claiming the title in the technical duet event a few days ago, Wang Liuyi and Wang Qianyi of China were back at the top of the podium once more today. The twins grabbed their fourth gold of these World Championships with a score of 250.7729 for their “Cheetah” routine, and remarkably, only the 10th-highest DD of this final (41.150).
“To win four out of four gold medals is not easy,” Liuyi said. “We had won four straight gold medals in the Budapest World Championships in 2022, so we knew that we could do it again. This achievement was based on our daily hard training, and is also thanks to our great team which inspired us to show our best version. I can’t deny that we are already thinking of the gold medal at the Paris Olympic Games. A journalist showed me the Olympic gold medal that was released today, and it is really beautiful. I want to make it mine! Well, every athlete wants the same thing at the Olympics, and it can’t be different for us.”
“Among our four gold medals, this one was the most special to me, because it was the most difficult,” Qianyi added. “We won by the closest margin… We wanted to show our artistic impression mostly, so the difficulty level wasn’t really as high as in the other countries. However, this was our aim in this competition and we succeeded in showing the judges our artistic impression above anything else.”
Bregje and Noortje de Brouwer of the Netherlands had already left a strong impression in the preliminaries with their new “Van Gogh” choreography. Slightly increasing their DD by 0.85 to reach 43.70 for this final, the 24-year-old twins were outstanding once more and clinched a historical silver with a score of 250.4979, only 0.2750 points behind the Chinese. Besides this historical first World Championships for the Netherlands, the twins have also secured their place in the Paris Olympics Games in August.
“We came here to just fight for a ticket to Paris,” Noortje said. “And now along with the Olympic qualification, we also won the silver medal, so this can’t get any better.”
“We saw a big improvement since Fukuoka”, Bregje continued. “We were fourth in the technical duet final the other day and very close to a medal, so this is a perfect ending for us. When we walked up to the podium, we found out that we were very close to the gold. It’s truly incredible, but we are really more than satisfied with silver! It definitely is the best day of our sporting career.”
After winning silver in the technical duet, Great Britain’s Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe claimed bronze in the free duet with 247.2626 for their “Rising Phoenix” routine.
“Honestly, it’s just amazing,” Shortman said. “I can’t even put it into words. At the back of our minds, we were thinking about whether we would manage to qualify for the Olympics. But we were also hoping for a medal. So, we kind of focused our attention on just trying to get a medal, because the Olympics would go hand in hand with that. If people knew how much it takes to get to an Olympic Games… It really should not be underestimated, and it’s such a relief now to say we have qualified. We have finally qualified! Now, we’ve got a few competitions along the way, like World Cups and Europeans. But the main thing is the Olympics, and we’re going to be trying to get a medal there as well.”
Alisa Ozhogina and Iris Tió of Spain, bronze medalists in the technical event, placed fourth with a score of 243.9918 for their routine set to Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”.
By finishing in the top three in combined scores amongst the duets not yet qualified, the pairs of Great Britain (506.8227), the Netherlands (502.3612) and Spain (502.0251) have hence guaranteed themselves a spot to the Olympic Games in the duet event.
Looking at how the team competition is shaping up, it is highly likely that more spots will open up following the reallocation of a few already-attributed duet quotas. The duets that are next in line in the combined scores, or those that will not have a team in Paris, will certainly be on the edge of their seats until tomorrow afternoon.
FREE TEAM PRELIMINARY
The day started early with the free team preliminary competition, where 15 countries competed in the hopes of making it to the top 12 and be in the final. The team of China, reigning World Champion, comfortably claimed the top spot with a score of 338.4981 with their “Gravitation” routine.
Japan is also looking like a strong contender to defend its silver medal from 2023, placing second in this preliminary round with 319.4124. with its “Chess” routine.
Spain placed third with 308.2480 with the same Aladdin choreography that helped them to the European Championships gold last summer.
The other nations qualified to the final are the USA, Ukraine, Italy, Israel, Greece, Canada, Australia, Brazil and Kazakhstan. As mentioned previously, this is essentially the marquee event that will determine the rest of the field for the Paris Olympic Games in the team and duet competitions.
The free duet final is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, February 8 at 2:00 pm local.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
Cover photo: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
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