Clearly dominant throughout this entire competition, the athletes of China were once again at the top of the medal stand on this final day of competition in Doha. Cheng Wentao and Shi Haoyu, the reigning World Champions, claimed the country’s seventh gold medal at these World Championships, and ninth in total.
FREE MIXED DUET FINAL
It was an early morning for the 10 mixed pairs competing in this last event of these World Championships, with the free mixed duet final scheduled for 9:30 am.
The competition had a bit of a rough start, with the pair of Cuba swimming first but facing a music issue in the first lap. Andy Avila Gonzalez and Carelys Valdes had to stop their routine, but got to go again after the duet of Bulgaria, which found himself having to swim much earlier than it expected.
The rest of the competition went relatively smoothly, with China claiming the top spot once more. Cheng Wentao and Shi Haoyu successfully defended their world title from 2023 with their “Romeo & Juliet” routine. The pair had slightly increased its DD from the preliminaries by 0.80 and managed it well, ultimately scoring 224.1437 for gold.
“Winning the World Championship not once, but twice, is a great achievement for both of us,” Shi said. “The first time, it caught us by surprise, but this time we had a feeling that we were on the right track.”
“Winning the gold medal at the World Championship on the Chinese New Year is a great feeling and this memory will stay with us for a lifetime,” Cheng added.
Bronze medalists in 2023, Dennis Gonzalez Boneu and Mireia Hernandez of Spain claimed the silver medal with a score of 208.3583. The pair unveiled a new “Hip-Hop” choreography in this event, and were undoubtedly thrilled to make it to this podium after missing out in the technical event.
“In these championships, we introduced a new choreography and we are very proud of our work,” Gonzalez Boneu said. “We tried to follow the new rules but also to find the balance with artistic impression and different movements. We tried to keep the magic of synchro, and be different from the others. But also from the technical part, we increased our difficulty by five points since last year. If you can’t do it, you can’t be on the podium.”
The pair of Mexico, silver medalist in 2023, secured bronze today with 192.577. For this routine, Diego Villalobos was paired with Trinidad Meza, who had placed eighth in the technical mixed duet back in 2022 alongside Joel Benavides Lepe.
The Mexicans had also increased their DD, going from 34.15 in the preliminaries to 35.95 in this final. Ultimately, they were credited with their full DD for their “La Llorona” routine.
“After qualifying into the final as the third-best duet, we made some changes to our routine,” Meza explained. “We knew we had a lower difficulty than Colombia, which was our closest opponent for the bronze. So, we had to take some risk and raise the difficulty on our third and fourth hybrid. I was kind of nervous, but our last training session went very well and our coaches gave us a beautiful talk which filled us with confidence. When I saw our score on the screen and knew that we had won a medal, I couldn’t hold back the tears. It’s the first for me, and it’s an immense pride to be part of such an achievement for Mexico.”
“The new rules have added a lot of stress and maybe you don’t get to enjoy the routine as much as in the past,” Villalobos said. “But in the end, we managed to control this lack of tranquillity. We felt certain that we could do it and we decided to do it for ourselves, look at each other, and not think about the outcome.”
The pair of Colombia, undoubtedly the most experienced of the field, unfortunately had to settle for fourth place with a score of 191.8729, only 0.6982 behind Mexico.
Jennifer Cerquera and Gustavo Sanchez had suffered two basemarks in the preliminaries, but sadly received one again in the final on their Salsa choreography. Their dynamic routine and artistic impression unfortunately weren’t quite enough for a spot on the podium.
In eighth, Brazil’s Bernardo Santos and Anna Giulia Veloso unfortunately had a major mistake on one of their hybrids — of which we are increasingly witnessing at this level across the board. The pair received a clear basemark on that hybrid, along with two additional ones on both of its pair acrobatics, as well as notable synchronization deductions, significantly dropping their total score compared to the preliminaries.
The artistic swimming competition is now over at these Doha World Championships. The next major international event on the schedule is the first leg of the World Cup, scheduled for April 5 – 7 in Beijing, China.
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
Cover photo: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia
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