Synchro, Team Final – Golden streak for Russia, Chinese butterflies steal silver from Spanish mermaids
Once upon a time...Glittering butterflies, crocodiles, mermaids, dinosaurs, spiders, all were part of the fairy tales that were told to the 17,000-strong audience during the team free routine final on the last day of the Olympic synchronised swimming competition at London's Aquatics Centre. The eight teams in competition put on a spectacular, breath-taking show, scissor-kicking and intertwining 128 legs in all throughout their respective 4-minute long programme.
Swimming to the military-inspired music pieces of War and Step by Denis Garnizov, defending Olympic champion Russia delivered a near-perfect, complex choreography that received a powerful score of 197.030 (tech 98.100, free 98.930), sealing an unbeaten golden streak of four synchro team crowns. The synchro superpower began an unstoppable reign over the sport with a breakthrough victory at the 2000 Olympic Games, and winning nothing but gold from then on.
Marathon Swimming (M): Oussama Mellouli (TUN), first winner ever in the pool and in open water!
Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia won the Olympic Swim Marathon 10km today in Serpentine Lake at London's Hyde Park. Mellouli won the first and only gold medal for his country at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He finished the race is 1:49.55.1, more than 3 seconds ahead of Thomas Lurz of Germany, the most decorated open water swimmer in the race. Richard Weinberger of Canada finished 5.2 seconds behind the Tunisian to earn third place.
Mellouli is the first swimmer to win a medal in both the pool and the open water swimming events in the same Olympic Games and is also the first athlete to have won a gold medal in both the pool and open water events. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Mellouli won the gold medal in the 1500m freestyle. He competed in this event in London, swimming one half a second faster than he did four years ago, this time for a bronze medal.
Water polo (W) final day - USA captures elusive Olympic gold medal; Spain takes silver, Australia earns bronze
The USA played their fourth Olympic water polo tournament before achieving their highest reward, an Olympic gold medal. Two USA players, Brenda Villa and Heather Petri now have four medals, one from each women's tournament since competition was inaugurated in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Spain achieved its historic triumph, the silver medal, in their first time in the Olympic tournament. Australia leaves London with a bronze medal, the only other nation to compete for an Olympic medal in each of the last four Olympic Games. Australia defeated the USA in the first tournament in the Sydney 2000 Games, and collected a bronze four years ago in Beijing. The Australian team finished fourth in 2004 Athens Olympics. The complete ranking of the 2012 Water Polo Women's Tournament also includes: 4. Hungary; 5. China; 6. Russia; 7. Italy; 8. Great Britain
Marathon Swimming (W): Eva Risztov (HUN): tired of the pool, successful in open water!
Eva Risztov, a veteran of pool swimming at two Olympic Games, an athlete who retired from swimming eight years ago, found that she had the golden touch in The Serpentine in Hyde Park today. The 26 year old Hungarian survived a strong challenge from USA's Haley Anderson to collect Hungary's second gold medal in swimming as these Olympic Games. Risztov completed the women's 10km marathon in 1:57.38.2, just .4 of a second ahead of the American swimmer. This is the second edition of the 10km swim marathon. Larissa Ilchenko (RUS) was the winner of the 2008 Olympic gold medal in Beijing.
Risztov and Anderson swam the Olympic 10km qualifier in Setubal, Portugal in early June where both swimmers gained their entry into the London Olympics. That result was won by Anderson by a margin of 1.4 seconds. The pair beat all of the top ten athletes who automatically qualified from last year's world championships in this event. The 2011 FINA 10km silver medallist, Italy's Martina Grimaldi finished 3.6 seconds behind the winner to collect the bronze medal. Grimaldi earned the only swimming medal for Italy in the 2012 Olympic Games.The 10km marathon was a heartbreak for the 2008 Olympic swimming silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne of Great Britain who was just .4 of a second outside of the medals. Payne was also the world champion in this event from last year in Shanghai. She was the reason that thousands of spectators had turned up in Hyde Park hoping to see her "trade up" the Beijing silver for a shinier medal at the home games.
Diving day 7 - Chen (CHN) revalidates 10m title; Australia shines with new star
The seventh final of the diving programme at these Games, the women's 10m platform, was not very thrilling in terms of the gold medal outcome but was amazingly interesting if we consider the minor medals. 2008 Olympic and 2011 world champion Ruolin Chen (CHN) calmly displayed her supremacy during the decisive stage of the competition, capturing gold with a total 422.30. This Chinese success came after a hiccup in the men's 3m springboard, where Russia's Ilya Zakharov earned the only non-Chinese gold so far in the diving competition (the last event on the programme being the men's 10m platform – final to be held on August 11). Chen reconfirmed the Chinese pride in this discipline, delivering a flawless programme, which allowed her to dominate the final from the very first dive. It is the fourth Olympic gold for Chen, after her 2008 and 2012 successes (in the individual and synchro 10m platform).
"I feel honoured to win one more gold medal for the Chinese team. I just hope China can get more gold! The more, the better. I still don't know how I'll celebrate this!" said a delighted Chen. Asked about what she has seen during these Games, she confessed: "While competing, I don't pay any attention to what others are doing, but before the diving events I watched the performances of Sun Yang in the pool and I loved it!"
Water polo (M) day 6 - Balkan powerhouses and Italy together in the men's semi-finals
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.
Water polo (W) day 5 - Newcomer Spain to meet experienced USA in battle for first Olympic gold medal
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.
Synchro day 3 - Russia retains duet title, Spain's London joy
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.
Diving day 6 - Ilya Zakharov (RUS) triumphs in the 3m springboard
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.
Water polo (M) day 5 – Croatia and Serbia are the only undefeated quarterfinalists
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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