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Water polo (M) day 6 - Balkan powerhouses and Italy together in the men's semi-finals

London 2012 Water Polo

Four nations each bordering the Adriatic Sea will play for Olympic medals in the semi-final round of the men's 2012 London Olympic water polo tournament. In today's biggest upset, Italy defeated Hungary, the 2008 Olympic champions to earn their spot in the next round. Italy's opponent is Serbia which had a closer than expected victory over Australia today. Croatia easily dismantled the USA, the 2008 Olympic silver medallists, to secure their spot in Friday's semi-final round. Serbia's opponent is Montenegro, which faced down a challenge by Spain earlier today, winning 11-9.

The losers of today's games will meet in the classification round to play for places 5th through 8th. The USA will face Spain on Friday and the other match up will include Hungary and Australia.

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Water polo (W) day 5 - Newcomer Spain to meet experienced USA in battle for first Olympic gold medal

London 2012 Water Polo

Spain and the USA will meet on Thursday to challenge for the gold medal at the London 2012 women's Olympic tournament. These two teams tied at 9-9 when they met last week in the preliminary round. Spain is making its first appearance in the women's Olympic tournament whereas it's the fourth consecutive appearance for the USA in the medal round and the third time the USA is playing for the gold medal, something that has eluded the team.  

USA veterans Brenda Villa (USA) and Heather Petri (USA) will enter the record books as four time Olympic medallists on Thursday. The US veteran players are seeking their first Olympic gold medal to go with two silver and one bronze medals they already own. The USA was second to Australia in Sydney 2000 and silver medallists again in Beijing 2008 losing to the Netherlands, 8-9.

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Synchro day 3 - Russia retains duet title, Spain's London joy

London 2012 Synchro


Russia's Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina cruised to victory in the first final of the Olympic synchronised swimming competition, the duet, winning their first Olympic medal in this event and the fourth consecutive for Russia. This is the second Olympic title for Ishchenko, already a multiple World champion (with 16 gold), after her first place in the team event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Looking like spooky puppets, the Russian duo chose a piece inspired by horror movies Suspiria and Sleepy Hollow, to captivate the audience and the judges throughout their much theatrical performance which they mastered with an unmatched level of technique. They started with two successive throws and perfectly mirrored each other to the end of the routine, amassing a total score of 197.100. 

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Diving day 6 - Ilya Zakharov (RUS) triumphs in the 3m springboard

London 2012 Diving

Four hours after their first gold in the Aquatics Centre (thanks to the duet in synchronised swimming), Russia celebrated their second title in the FINA sports at these Games by winning the men's 3m springboard of the diving programme. In the most thrilling and interesting final so far in this discipline, Ilya Zakharov proved that the difficult balance between choosing an easy programme (with less risks) and selecting a very complicated set of dives (with its associated chances of failing) is one of the keys for success in diving. Accumulating a total DD of 21.5 in his six dives, the Russian champion was by far the competitor who risked the most – at the end, this choice was fruitful and allowed Zakharov to end the four consecutive Olympic title streak for China in the event: Ni Xiong won the event in 1996 and 2000, Bo Peng in 2004 and Chong He in 2008. 

Defending champion Chong He - who, in addition to his Olympic title, has medalled five times at the FINA World Championships - was clearly the diver to beat in the final. He had finished first in the semis and second in the preliminaries (where the Russian was better). But He never appeared to be totally serene and despite choosing also a difficult set of dives (total DD of 21.0), he lacked spark in each of them. The situation became so complicated for him that at the end of the third round (there were six) he placed fifth. He recovered to fourth after dives 4 and 5 and then mastered the forward 2 ½ somersault 3 twists (pike, DD 3.9) to finally get the bronze in a total 524.15. A disappointing result for He, used to shine at the highest level - he was 2009 and 2001 world champion in Rome and Shanghai, respectively. 

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Water polo (M) day 5 – Croatia and Serbia are the only undefeated quarterfinalists

London 2012 Water Polo

Following the conclusion of the preliminary round in the men's tournament, Croatia and Serbia were the top ranked teams in Group A and B respectively. Croatia was the only team with five victories, while Serbia earned four wins and a draw with Montenegro. Croatia will meet the USA, the 4th ranked team from Group B in the first game of the quarterfinal round which begins on Wednesday. Serbia will match up against Australia, the 4th ranked team from Group A in the fourth match of the quarterfinal round

Spain, the second place team in Group A will square off against Montenegro, which finished third in Group B in the quarter final in the second match of the next round. In Wednesday's third match, Italy, the number 3 ranked team in Group A will face Hungary, the second ranked team from Group B and the 2008 Olympic champions. Hungary's campaign was off to a uncertain start having lost their first two matches to Serbia and Montenegro, but they won their final three matches in the preliminary round.

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Russia, China and Spain make top-3 ahead of duet final

London 2012 Synchro

The crowd reserved a loud reception for the 104 competitors of the 2012 Olympic Games synchronised swimming duet competition, taking place from August 5-7 at London's brand new Aquatics Centre. The 24 duets performed a technical routine on day 1 (August 5) and a free routine on day 2 (August 6), the scores of which are combined to decide the twelve duets that will advance to the final, scheduled for August 7.

Recently-formed Russian duo, Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina, delivered a speedy technical routine on Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us", earning 98.200. On the following day, they swam to near-perfection their free programme, receiving an impressive 98.600, for a total score of 196.800. "They first swam this routine at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai but we changed half of it for the London Olympics, we added many new elements and increased the difficulty," said coach Tatiana Dachenko.

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FINA in mourning – Dr. Brian Sando (AUS)

FINA Family

FINA learnt with great sadness about the loss of Dr. Brian Sando, member of the Doping Control Review Board, and one of the most respected and experienced sports medicine doctors in Australia. He was also a well-known expert in the area of anti-doping programmes. Dr. Sando passed away on August 4, 2012 in Adelaide (AUS) at the age of 76.

Dr. Andrew Pipe, chairman of the FINA Doping Control Review Board, left his tribute to the work and career of Dr. Sando: “His contributions to sport in Australia and internationally were immense and it is hard to imagine a FINA World Championships or an Olympic Games without his presence. Each of us will have our own special memories of Brian but his dry sense of humour, his kindness and compassion, his love of sport, and his integrity and intrinsic sense of fair-play were evident to all and immensely valued by each of us.”

To his family, friends, and sport community in Australia FINA addresses its sincere condolences.

 

Water polo (W) day 4 - Hungary seals narrow win over Russia to clinch semi-final berth

London 2012 Water Polo

Hungary survived a last second Russian rally and was able to clinch a semi-final berth with an 11-10 victory at the Water Polo arena. In the final minutes of the game Russia laid siege to Hungary's goal. Olga Beliaeva's (RUS) point blank shot was blocked before Ekaterina Lisunova's (RUS) rebound was disallowed because the siren had started to sound.Russia had raced to a 2-0 lead but surrendered their advantage early in the second quarter. Hungary went two ahead with 2:31 remaining. Russia fought back with the fourth goal of Evgenia Ivanova (RUS) which arrived from well outside and after an extra man exclusion period had expired.

Dora Antal (HUN) scored her second goal with 1:19 left on the clock before Russia earned a penalty shot, which Beliaeva converted for 11-10. Russia won the ball and took a timeout with 10 seconds left, then gained an extra man advantage with six seconds left leading to Beliaeva's unsuccessful last second shot.

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Diving day 5 - Minxia Wu (CHN) wins 3m springboard and gets sixth Olympic medal

London 2012 Diving

If there was an image to retain from the women’s 3m springboard final, it would surely be the immense frustration of Tania Cagnotto (ITA), when after her fifth dive she saw a “3” next to her name. China's Minxia Wu had one last dive to perform but given her advance and dominance, it was sure that the “3” in front of the Italian’s name would soon be a “4”. When the final ranking was displayed on the scoreboard, the “4” was indeed there, in front of Cagnotto’s name, indicating that she had lost the medal by a mere 0.20 to Mexico’s Laura Sanchez.

Participating at her fourth Olympics and after another fourth place in the synchronised event here in London, Cagnotto’s disappointment was huge – she had qualified second in the semis and was hoping not only to obtain her first Olympic medal but also to get the first podium appearance for Italy in Aquatics at these Games. Her third dive, a forward 3 ½ somersault (pike, DD 3.1) was perhaps responsible for this outcome: due to a slight over rotation and an unsuccessful entry in the water, Cagnotto obtained a poor 68.20 total from the judges. From that moment on, she could not recover and finished at the podium’s door.

For the gold medal, things were clear from the beginning – Wu always appeared to be the final's strongest and most regular diver. Without any notorious mistake during her five-dive programme, the 26-year-old Chinese star obtained her sixth Olympic award (414.00 points) and first individual gold after being champion in the synchronised event in 2004, 2008 and 2012, second in the 3m springboard in Athens 2004 and third at the “Water Cube” in 2008. She now shares the title of most medalled athlete in Olympic history with retired legendary diver Jingjing Guo (CHN). With this title, China now has five victories out of the five events held at the London Aquatics Centre so far and maintains quite preserved their hopes of getting a clean sweep of the eight Olympic titles at stake.

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Water polo (M) day 4 - Hungary keeps their Olympic dream alive following their triumph over Great Britain

London 2012 Water Polo

altHungary's quest for a 10th Olympic crown is still on track after qualifying for the quarterfinals with a 17-6 victory over Great Britain in a men's Group A match. Hungary's gain was Great Britain's loss and the British side will depart the competition after Monday's clash with Montenegro. Hungary needed to produce a quality performance after a lacklustre London 2012 prior to today. They have won just two games from four outings but finished ahead of Romania and Great Britain on the group ladder. Hungary used their best team often, looking for quality everywhere in the pool with some success.

Britain used number 13 Matt Holland (GBR) in goal and he has just 32 minutes, equivalent to one match, in the previous three encounters. Hungarian captain and triple Olympic champion Peter Biros (HUN), in particular, had a nightmare time against Holland (GBR), who excelled with 12 saves.

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