Opening Ceremony highlights spirit of unity at the Games
From the bucolic green fields until the creation of the world wide web, the history of Great Britain is rich in great events and discoveries that changed the world. The most notable one being the Industrial Revolution, this was the first theme of the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the Games of the 30th Olympiad held on July 27, 2012 in London. Under the title "Isles of Wonder", the action started on the countryside, with a fabulous stage simulating the old and calm lifestyle in the British landscapes.
It quickly evolved to the challenging but thrilling times of the Industrial Revolution, a landmark in the history of mankind and the genesis of the development model followed by the entire planet. In a show proposed by famous artistic director Danny Boyle, the programme of the Ceremony was quite attractive: "You'll hear the words of our great poets – Shakespeare, Blake and Milton. You'll hear the glorious noise of our unrivalled pop culture. You'll see characters from our great children's literature – Peter Pan and Captain Cook, Mary Poppins, Voldemort, Cruella de Vil. You'll see ordinary families and extraordinary athletes. Dancing nurses, singing children and amazing special effects," said the informative brochure distributed to the 80,000 spectators that filled the stadium.
All this and much more was part of a very complete spectacle, highlighted by the parade of the 205 National Olympic Committees participating in these Games, headed by Greece (the country at the origin of the Olympic Games) and concluded by the enthusiastically-applauded British competitors. Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Games, while the IOC President Jacques Rogge left once more an educational message to all athletes present in the stadium: "I congratulate all of the athletes who have earned a place at these Games. And to the athletes, I offer this thought: your talent, your dedication and commitment brought you here. Now you have a chance to become true Olympians. That honour is determined not by whether you win, but by how you compete. Character counts far more than medals. Reject doping. Respect your opponents. Remember that you are all role models. If you do that, you will inspire a generation."
Exciting atmosphere in the Aquatic venues
With two days to go for the start of the FINA competitions, the atmosphere is already intense in the Aquatic venues. Swimmers, divers, synchronised swimmers and water polo players are already practising for some days in the state-of-the-art facilities, trying to put in place their last winning strategies for a successful participation in the 2012 Olympic Games.
"Winning" and "successful" have obviously different meanings for the myriad of athletes competing in London. Strong teams are obviously looking for podium presences, while competitors from developing countries will certainly do their best to raise the aquatic image of their respective nation and to emulate the youth in their territory to the practice of swimming.
In the first group of traditionally-strong nations, the team of Great Britain has naturally great expectations with their home Games. On the Press Conference to present the goals of the squad, Michael Scott, the British National Performance Director, was clear: "We've strived to continue momentum. The upward curve has continued through Rome (2009 FINA World Championships), Delhi (2010 Commonwealth Games) and Shanghai (2011 FINA World Championships). We've learnt from Shanghai, where we missed on four medals by a short margin." Four years ago, in Beijing, the British delegation had totalled six medals in Swimming (three in the pool and three in the marathon swimming events).
WPWL 2013 - Women's and Men's Tournament Information
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Riccione 2012, Open Water: Record swimmers take to the Adriatic Sea
Never before in the history of open water swimming have so many competitors entered an event than at the FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione. About 1349 men and 594 women dived took to the clear water of the Adriatic Sea. Air temperature was about 30 degrees Celsius and water temperature 23. The organising committee had prepared the triangle course for a great final of the championships. Due to the great number of entries, it was decided in advance, that the race would be split in two days. The younger age groups (40-44 and younger) competed at the same time. On the last day of the championships, a huge crowd of spectators, some even took to the water to be as close as possible to the competitors, celebrated the final event of the successful championships.
In 2004, when Riccione hosted the FINA World Masters Championships for the first time, 1083 competitors had entered the open water race, a record in participation at the time. Now the figures are nearly doubled and the organising committee has registered a new record. The great number of competitors was also a great challenge for safety and security instructors. No less than eight water crafts, 15 rescue boats, four boats for the organising committee, another four with coast guards and divers managed the swimmers throughout the race. “In my opinion, we provided the best ever conditions for the competitors”, said Andea Prayer, vice chairman of the organising committee and a member of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.
Riccione 2012, Swimming: A flowering of five-time champions
The Championships' biggest reception was reserved for swimming, where the entire Masters community - competitors, spectators and fans - cheered from the stands at the outdoor pool of the “Polisportiva Communale” in Riccione. It is a quarter past midnight. They are all waiting for the last heat, men's 50m butterfly, to start. Sergey Mukhin from Russia was the last champion of the day, winning the event in 25.09 (25-29 age group). And all together, they celebrated a great midnight show after all heats were held during a long, long day. The competition had started at 7:30 in the morning with the first heat for the men's 400m IM, Spain's Manuel Pinya touching first in 13:17.93 (85-89 age group).
Long days and sessions confirmed the ever-vibrant interest for Masters swimming all over the world. A total 77 afiliated member federations, from Andorra to Zimbabwe, were present in Riccione and close to 10'000 competitors in swimming only provided a total 28'878 individual and 1556 relay splashes at the event - an absolute record in FINA's history. Up to now, the 2000 edition in Munich, Germany, held the record of entries (17'144, individual and relays together). “We never expected such a great number of participants. We are very surprised and overwhelmed by this very great interest”, said Paolo Barelli, FINA Bureau Honorary Secretary and President of Italian Swimming Federation. “It shows also the great attraction of Riccione and the Adriatic Sea”, he added.
Riccione 2012, Synchronised Swimming: A family affair
Compositions of pop, rock, soul, classical music blared on the loudspeakers for the five-day synchronised swimming competition of the 14th FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione, Italy. A total 588 competitors performed routines in solo, duet, trio, team and combination. Some travelled a long way to compete on the wonderful Adriatic coast. From Kobe, Japan, 89-year-old Chisako Oishi competed in the 80+ age group, bringing home a gold medal from the solo event. She earned a second gold medal with her daughter Mayumi Araki in the duet (70-79 age group). “I have trained hard up to three times a week for this event”, she said.
Team Caem from Canada also brought the family to Riccione, but at a quite different level. Two of the nine competitors had their young babies with them. “We must organise our training and practice according to the feeding schedule”, Annie Arseneau said. Robert Prevot is coaching the club's three teams that are in Riccione. "I'm responsible for creativity and artistry”, he explained. “And I'm having very busy days here at the championships”, he added.
Super Final 2012 (Men): Croatia beats Spain to clinch first World League title
KAZAKHSTAN, Almaty (June 17) – Water polo at its prime: Croatia won a thrilling final against Spain in a penalty shootout; eleven rounds were needed to decide the title which finally went to Croatia, for the first time in World League history. Italy came third after a narrow win over USA, the hosts celebrated Kazakhstan‘s best ever placement in any FINA competition as they clinched the fifth position ahead of China, and the Australians found some consolation in their victory against Brazil.
The final day’s action was attended by FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione and Dariga Nazarbayeva, Chairperson of the Social and Development Committee of the Kazakh Parliament, daughter of the country’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The FINA President and Mrs Nazarbayeva presented the gold medals to the victorious Croatian players at the end of the event which was very well organised, thanks to the tremendous efforts by the Kazakh Swimming Federation.
Super Final 2012 (Men): Spain upsets Italy, meets Croatia in final
KAZAKHSTAN, Almaty (June 16) – World champion Italy couldn’t make it to the final this time: they were pushed aside by Mediterranean arch rivals Spain in a game decided by the penalties. The other semi final saw Croatia coming from behind to beat the U.S., thanks to Sandro Sukno’s hat-trick in the fourth period. For the lower places Kazakhstan scored a bit surprising win over Australia, while China took the upper hand in the last quarter against Brazil.
Super Final 2012 (Men): Croatia, Italy, Spain and USA advance to semis
In the pool, only one game offered the usual excitement: the Australians challenged the Americans towards the end of the game, but the USA proved too strong. Italy and Spain both scored a rather easy victory and will face each other in the semis. Croatia had some tough moments in the first half against the hosts, but the third period was decisive – their semi final against the USA will be a mouthwatering encounter, too.
Super Final 2012 (Men): Italy and Croatia top respective groups
KAZAKHSTAN, Almaty (June 14) – The last day of the group stage was opened by a scoring festival, courtesy of Croatia, then came three thrillers offering tremendous excitements – a great way to turn into the knock-out phase. Besides Croatia, Italy clinched the top spot of their respective group after a nailbiter against the U.S. – the Americans settled for the second place here –, Spain came second in the other quartet after bouncing back from 1-4 against Australia. To the sorrow of hundreds, the locals lost their second consecutive penalty shootout, this time to China.
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