Beijing 2011, Day 3: Spain retains title, Russia ends at podium's door

Host China finished third - credit: Fei MaohuaSpain's stunning performance by the music "Stairways to Heaven", a routine they have been presenting since the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome, definitely stole the show on the final day of the 2011 FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy where the last event, Free Combination, was contested at Beijing's Water Cube. Canada finished second while China claimed third spot, ahead of the Russian team.

The last and longest event of the competition is the only one to be performed under the same FINA Rules that usually apply in other competitions. As a result, no accessories or additional equipment is permitted in the routine.

Led Zeppelin's “Stairways to Heaven” is a theme song that proved to be successful for Spain: firstly in Rome, then at the 2010 World Trophy in Moscow, and more recently at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai last summer. With Spanish icon Gemma Mengual absent in Shanghai, Spain took fourth in Shanghai, behind Russia, China and Canada.
 
At the Chinese National Aquatic Center, however, the neutral and celebrity judges were impressed by the Spanish squad once again, which earn them an unbeatable score of 96.963 points, sealing their victory for the Trophy.

"It's great that Gemma is back. She did a great job in the solo part tonight. She's become a real woman since she just had a son. She has a new feeling of the water and new understanding of the theme of our performance though she is far away from her best form. She just returned to training for three and a half months," Spain’s national coach Anna Tarres said.


Stairway to gold for Spain - credit: Fei Maohua
Stairway to gold for Spain - credit: Fei Maohua

"I'm happy that we have young swimmers, including a 17-year-old in the team and they all did very well. We are preparing the team mixed with young and veterans," she added.
 
Canada, which could be called the most acrobatic squad with no less than eight breathtaking jumps and throws in their routine, performing on a medley of Queen, was the runner-up for a total 95.526 points.

"Our top national team had performed the same routine at the Shanghai World Championships this year. But right now we have a mixed team of junior and top level. I'm happy that they showed their best tonight for the last three months," Canada's head coach Lyne Piche said.

Host China finished third with 95.375 points, followed by Italy and the United States. Russia placed sixth one more time after taking the same spot in the Thematic Team the previous day.

A total of nine teams, including Spain, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United States and host China competed in the three-day World Trophy.

China performed for bronze - credit: Fei Maohua
China performed for bronze - credit: Fei Maohua