Park (KOR) is back, Pellegrini (ITA) remains strong
After winning the men’s 400m free at the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne (AUS) and reinforcing his status of Korean star at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (gold in the men’s 400m free and a silver in the 200m), Tae Hwan Park did not appear in great shape at the 2009 Worlds in Rome (ITA), finishing only 12th in the longest distance. In 2010, Park seemed to have recovered, with victories in the 100m, 200m and 400m of the Asian Games. In Shanghai, he confirmed that he is back to the top, winning the first swimming final of the programme at the 14th FINA World Championships Shanghai 2011, precisely the 400m free, in a time of 3:42.04. It was the third fastest 400m victory in the history of the FINA World Championships, after the 3:40.17 triumph of Ian Thorpe (AUS, 2001) and the 2009 win of Paul Biedermann (GER, 3:40.07, the current World Record). At 21, Park demonstrates that he is ready for the 2012 Olympic celebration in London (GBR).
World’s synchro trio strengthens overall lead
The tone is set. One year ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games, the world’s best synchronised swimming teams leave Shanghai with new targets to fine-tune their preparation for the big meet. Russia concluded the week with a complete sweep in all seven events, a first since the split between technical and free routines in 2007. China established a success without precedent, bagging six silvers and a bronze while former world number-2 Spain brings home one silver and five bronze. Only one medal, the bronze in Free Combination, was out of the Spanish grasp and ended up in Canada’s pocket. This is the only event where the Russia-China-Spain triumvirate did not prevail.
In the Team free event, the Russians scissor-kicked their way through a magnificent and intricate routine to “Forward to Wind”, thrilling the audience and judges with breathtaking throws and sky-high lifts. Their ability to maintain a tremendous balance in all those acrobatic moves and change so quick into the next sequence is disconcerting. With a total score of 98.620, Russia continues to hold at bay its main opponents.
FINA President: “We are witnessing a great Championships!”
In a Press Conference before the start of the Swimming competition of the 14th FINA World Championships Shanghai 2011, the FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione expressed his satisfaction by the level of performances achieved during the first week of FINA’s major event. “Our athletes are in great shape and are very well prepared, and the competition is of high level,” said Dr. Maglione.
The FINA President also highlighted the TV production plan from the Host Broadcaster of the championships, CCTV: “Their coverage is exceeding the Olympic standard in Aquatics, which shows our Sport in a complete new dimension – the best example of that is the ultra slow motion possibility, a technical advancement capable of processing more than 800 frames per second”.
Netherlands, Australia, Russia and China qualify for quarter-finals
Olympic champion Netherlands heads a list of four teams who survived the second round of the women’s water polo competition at the Natatorium on Saturday.
The Dutch defeated New Zealand 14-8, while Australia held off a late-charging Hungary 10-9 after leading by four goals seven minutes from time. Aussie Stinger Rowie WEBSTER netted four goals to take her tournament tally to 11.
Russia had little trouble getting past Cuba, winning 26-4 and China pleased the huge crowd in the late game with a 15-6 destruction of Spain, built on a 7-2 opening quarter. MA Huanhuan became the tournament’s highest scorer with 14 goals thanks to a five-goal effort tonight.
China: one step to go for the absolute record
Wu Minxia got the ninth gold medal for China and first for herself. It may sound strange but the four-time World Champion in synchronised diving never had a chance to won her individual medal. Every time since 2001 it was Guo Jingjing who captured gold so all that Wu Minxia gained individually for this period of time was one bronze and two silver medals.
Sometimes, it seems that diving as a sport has its own justice. In 1976, in Montreal, many people thought that Greg Louganis should be awarded with gold medal at 10m platform – but the victory was given to great Italian Claus Dibiasi. The 1976 Games were his last international competition and judges were perhaps more indulgent to the veteran than to the 16-year-old teenager.
The same kind of drama happened in Seoul. Louganis was about to finish his great career, after two Olympic gold in Los Angeles, one more in Seoul at 3m and was fighting for the fourth on the platform. A lot of people were sure that the gold medal should be given to Xiong Ni. But it went to Louganis. And this looked as a compensation for Montreal.
Petar Stoychev (BUL): first gold for last world appearance
Petar Stoychev, the accomplished Bulgarian open water swimmer won his first FINA title in the 25km event at Jinsan Beach in Shanghai on the same day that he announced his retirement from future FINA world championship competition. Three time world champion Vladimir Dyatchin of Russia finished 35.8 seconds behind Stoychev to earn the silver medal. Csaba Gercsak of Hungary swimming his first ever 25km race collected the bronze medal, his first medal in a FINA competition.
Stoychev, 35, competed in the 10km event earlier in the week hoping for a top 10 finish and an opportunity to qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games. His 27th place finish in the 10km, 1:14.8 seconds behind the winner was a great personal disappointment. It likely factored heavily in his decision to say that he won't compete in the 2013 FINA worlds in Barcelona. His disappointment in the 10km result may also served as his motivation to secure a world championship title in what he says is his final FINA competition.
Stoychev was the flag bearer for the Bulgarian Olympic team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He placed sixth in the Olympic 10km Marathon, 17.5 seconds behind gold medallist David Davies of Great Britain. Stoychev also swam in the 1500m freestyle in Beijing and ranked 30th after the preliminary heats.
Like two peas in a pod
Duet synchro swimmers are like two peas in a pod. Why? Because after spending months and years training and competing together, they inevitably develop some sort of special connection. They share the ups and downs of this demanding sport, celebrate success and overcome deception, like best friends or sisters do. Tonight, such close connection was visible in many of the duets free routine, but also out of the pool.
Russian pair Natalia Ishchenko/Svetlana Romashina, who already swam the Duet free together in Rome, repeated as World champions, amassing a total score of 98.410 while identical twins Tingting and Wenwen Jiang from China overtook Spanish rivals Andrea Fuentes and Ona Carbonell by 0.310 point for an overall 96.810.
Croatia, Italy, Hungary and Serbia advance to water polo quarter-finals
Croatia, Italy, Hungary and Serbia won their groups and advanced to the quarter-finals of the men’s water polo competition on the last day of preliminary-round games at the Natatorium today.
Hungary edged out Spain 12-11 to win Group A in a near packed house in a game where Spain held sway in the first half but Hungary took control just before halftime and never relinquished the lead. Montenegro clinched second with a 16-5 success over Kazakhstan.
In Group B, defending champion Serbia beat previously unbeaten Australia 12-9 while in the last game of the night, Romania defeated China 14-10 after the Chinese led 6-5 at halftime.
He Chong (CHN) wins, but Russia shines
The Russian divers Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov surprised the audience with their silver and bronze medals. Five-time world champion and Beijing gold medallist Qin Kai finished fourth. The gold went to the Olympic champion and world champion of 2009 in this event, He Chong.
Qin Kai had the best result in the preliminary event – 4.35 ahead of He Chong. In the semi-final, the Chinese divers changed the positions and their results were almost equal with the difference of 0.25. Zakharov had the third score both times. He was the most evident rival to the Chinese among all competitors because of the difficulty of his dives. The Degree of Difficulty of He Chong’s free programme totalled 20.3, while Qin Kai had 20.4. Zakharov had an impressive 21.5.
Splash in Shanghai with Eurosport and Pieter van den Hoogenband!
Dutch triple Olympic Champion Pieter van den Hoogenband joins Eurosport as swimming consultant for FINA World Championships and London 2012 Olympics
Paris, July 8, 2011 - Eurosport's Road to London 2012 starts in Shanghai with the Swimming FINA World Championships taking place from 24-31 July. This competition marks Eurosport’s first blockbuster event on the road to London 2012, just one year before the start of the much awaited Olympics Games.
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