Water Polo Women, Day 7: 7th & 8th - NED 12 CAN 9
Netherlands captain Yasemin Smit led her team to seventh classification with a 12-9 victory over Canada. Smit scored three times in the opening quarter as the Dutch went from 5-1at the first break to 6-1 early in the second quarter. Canada woke up at this stage and started competing and then outplaying Netherlands 8-7 in the last three periods.
The Dutch meant business from the start and only veteran Joelle Bekhazi broke the Dutch charge at 2-1.
Water Polo Men, Day 6: MNE 10 ITA 8
Montenegro ended Italy’s World Championship reign with a staggering 10-8 victory in front of a near-packed crowd at Bernat Picornell Pool. Italy was shell-shocked with Montenegro’s start to the match, from Aleksandar Ivovic’s lightning shot from the top of the first attack, through Mladan Janovic’s extra-man goal from the top and the Nikola Janovic’s penalty goal — 3-0 at 4:04.
That was a huge shock that Italy had severe difficulty adjusting to after five straight victories in Barcelona. Matteo Aicardi splashed in a rebound from one metre for 3-1.
Hungary and Montenegro to battle for men’s gold medal
Multiple Olympic champion Hungary and Montenegro will do battle for the FINA Men’s Water Polo World Championships at the Bernat Picornell Pool on Saturday. A reshaped Hungary, a far cry from the triple Olympic champions of the new millennium, pushed London Olympic champion Croatia out of title contention with an 11-10 victory built on better extra-man statistics and the stopping power of goalkeeper Viktor Nagy.
The first semifinal produced an upset according to many pundits, except anyone related to Hungary. The Hungarians, under new head coach Tibor Benedek, himself one of the world’s most decorated athletes, grabbed the lead in the second quarter, took the match to 10-7 early in the fourth, watched Croatia level at 10-10 and then celebrated when Denes Varga scored the winner at 1:58.
Water Polo Men, Day 6: HUN 11 CRO 10
Winning games is all about winning percentages and Hungary had the better figures in knocking Olympic champion Croatia out of the gold-medal contention in the men’s competition. Hungary won 11-10, shutting Croatia down in the extra-man situation with stunning figures of converting four from eight and restricting Croatia to six goals from 15 attempts. What was even more telling was the two penalty saves by Hungary’s goalkeeper, Viktor Nagy,
The excitement started early and continued throughout from Miklos Gor-Nagy’s opening goal until Petar Muslim’s 3-2 goal at 3:06, the quarter-time score.
Swimming, Day 5: USA 2 – China 2; WR for Pedersen (DEN) in the women’s 200m breast
The fifth session of finals was highlighted, in terms of performances, by the new World Record in the women’s 200m breaststroke by Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) in the first semi-final of the event. The Danish swimmer clocked an impressive 2:19.11, improving the previous world global mark (2:19.59) set by Rebecca Soni (USA) at the London Olympic Games. Pedersen is naturally the athlete to beat in the decisive race, but Yulia Efimova, from Russia, is not far, with a 2:19.85 effort in the semis. It was the third World Record of the Championships, all in women’s events – Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) in the 100m breaststroke and Katie Ledecky (USA) in the 1500m free are the two other WR performers so far.
In terms of medals, the five finals gave two titles to USA and also two gold medals to China. In all of these events, logics prevailed, with Ryan Lochte confirming his good shape in the men’s 200m IM and getting the third consecutive gold in this distance since 2009. Additionally, it was his first individual podium presence in Barcelona. In the women’s 4x200m free relay, the North Americans were also the favourites and touched home first for the fifth title in the last six editions of these Championships.
Swimming, Day 5 - Women’s 4x200m free: USA confirms supremacy with fifth win in six editions
In the last final of the evening session, the duel between USA and Australia turned out in favour of the North Americans, who got their fifth title in six editions, touching home in7:45.14. The winners started very strong, with Katie Ledecky swimming the first 200m in 1:56.32, but then the Australians got some advantage after the efforts of Kylie Palmer and Brittany Elmslie. USA closed the quartet with Missy Franklin, who clocked an impressive 1:54.27 to provide gold to her team.
Australia earned silver in 7:47.08, while the bronze went for France in 7:48.43. This podium was a copy of the 2012 Olympic top-3 ranking, but in London all these three teams had swum faster.
Swimming, Day 5 - Women’s 50m backstroke: China makes 1-2 with Zhao (gold) and Fu (silver)
World Record holder (27.06) since her winning performance at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome (ITA), Jing Zhao (CHN) confirmed her credentials in Barcelona, getting the gold in 27.29 and winning the duel with her teammate Yuanhui Fu, silver medallist in 27.39. Fu was the best performer of the season, with a 27.22 effort established in April in Zhengzhou, but could not improve. It was however the first medal at Worlds for the 17-year-old Chinese swimmer. Zhao has now five awards in FINA’s major showcase.
The bronze went to Japan’s Aya Terakawa in 27.53 – she was better two years ago in Shanghai, where she got the silver in this event. The 28-year-old Japanese backstroker had left the 2012 arena in London with two bronze medals, in the 100m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay.
Swimming, Day 5 - Women’s 200m butterfly: Zige Liu (CHN) earns first gold at Worlds
2008 Olympic champion in this event, China’s Zige Liu got her first title at FINA World Championships, by convincingly winning in 2:04.59, the best performance of the year, but still far from her World Record performance, established in October 2009 in a time of 2:01.81. It was a very interesting duel with local hero Mireia Belmonte, fighting until the end for the victory: in the end, the Iberian swimmer got the silver in 2:04.78, while the bronze went to Katinka Hosszu, from Hungary, in 2:05.59.
Zige has now one medal of each colour in the event, after taking silver in 2009 (behind Australia’s Jessicah Schipper) and bronze in 2011 (an event won by her teammate Liuyang Jiao, the 2012 Olympic champion). Jiao, also competing in the final in Barcelona, could not do better than sixth, in 2:06.65.
Swimming, Day 5 - Men’s 100m free: Magnussen (AUS) revalidates title in 47.71
In one of the most awaited finals of the programme, Vladimir Morozov, from Russia, had a bullet-start with a 0.59 reaction time and a 50m turn under the World Record pace (21.94, 0.23 faster than the split clocked by Cielo in 2009), but this initial effort didn’t pay off. The victory went to Australia’s James Magnussen in 47.71, 0.08 slower than his winning time in Shanghai, two years ago.
Magnussen had been defeated by Nathan Adrian (USA) at the 2012 Olympics, but took his sweet revenge in Barcelona, leaving the minor medals for the two US swimmers of the final, respectively James Feigen (47.82) and Adrian (bronze, in 47.84). The Australian sprinter was already the best performer of the season, with a 47.53 effort from last April in Adelaide. Moreover, this was his fourth medal at FINA World Championships, after three podium presences in 2011.
Water Polo Men, Day 6: ESP 14 SRB 13
Spain inflicted pain on Serbia by sending it to the play-off for seventh place against Australia after a dramatic sudden death, penalty shootout that Spain eventually won 14-13.
The scoreline was the same as the match between the two in the 2009 Rome World Championships. Serbia won that day and went on to win eight further matches against Spain in major competitions. It was time for Spain to redress the situation.
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