Lochte defeats Phelps, France makes history
Over the years, the men’s 200m free has become one of the most awaited races of the swimming programme at both the FINA World Championships and Olympic Games. Two emblematic examples: the Athens 2004 Olympic duel between Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps and Pieter van den Hoogenband (Thorpe was then the fastest), or the 2009 world championship battle between Paul Biedermann and Michael Phelps (the North American, winner in 2005 and 2007, had then lost to the German star). In Shanghai, the first final of the third day of the swimming programme was also outstanding, and included the following “attractions”: Yannick Agnel, the new rising star in France and fastest qualifier of the semis; Michael Phelps, the man of the 14 Olympic gold medals and best swimmer in history; Ryan Lochte, Phelps’ teammate with 14 world medals; Paul Biedermann (GER), the defending 2009 world champion and world record holder (1:42.00); Tae Hwan Park (KOR), Olympic silver medallist in this event and already winner of the 400m free in Shanghai.
Mighty world champion USA rumbled by Russia in women's water polo
World champion United States of America, so long a permanent feature of the FINA World Championship women's water polo final, will not be contesting a medal this year.
Perennial podium-climber Australia, Olympic champion Netherlands and 2009 silver medalist Canada were also denied a top-four finish when quarter-final action was played today at the Natatorium.
The USA was upstaged by a gutsy Russia who used a seven-goal blitz to shatter the hearts of the North Americans. Not out of a podium finish since 2001, the multi-awarded USA had no answer to Russia after being 4-0 up midway through the second quarter.
“Revenge Day” for Cielo, Huegill and Dale Oen
Cesar Cielo Filho (BRA) has definitively solid nerves. First Olympic swimming champion for Brazil in 2008 (in the men’s 50m free), he touched the sky in 2009 after winning the 50m and 100m free races at the FINA World Championships in Rome (ITA). “Positive” nerves, one would say: you train, you make splendid races, you win, and you receive your medal (occasions in which he often cries…). Cielo has since then become a legend in Brazil, where he is an icon of the country’s passion for sport – additionally, he is one of the most prestigious ambassadors of the 2016 Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Two months ago, his world turned upside down: after taking his usual nutritional supplement, a positive doping test led to a warning from his National Federation. FINA appealed the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the Olympic champion had to wait for an audience held while he was already in Shanghai to know if he could swim at these championships: the verdict was a relief for him. The warning sanction was validated by the CAS and Cielo was free to shine in the pool.
Montenegro, Spain, USA and Germany keep medal hopes alive
Montenegro, Spain, United States of America and Germany have fired through to the quarter-finals of the FINA World Championships men’s water polo competition at the Natatorium today.
The second-round games went as predicted but the pressure was firmly put on the Spaniards as Australia came back from 7-2 down only to fall a goal short at 9-8.
Montenegro, who missed the top eight two years ago in Rome, beat Romania 84; the United States of America which was fourth in Rome, rumbled North American cousin Canada 127-4 and Germany put paid to Japan’s hopes with a rousing 8-6 success in front of 150 screaming German youth camp swimmers.
China takes it all at home!
Chinese great Qiu Bo got the last gold on offer in Shanghai in the 10m platform. This medal completes the host federation’s complete sweep in all diving events for an overall, record-breaking tally of 10 gold.
Diving can be cruel and unpredictable. In the 3m springboard, five-time World Champion Qin Kai suffered so much in his last dive, a 4 ½ Forward Tuck (109C), that he finished fourth, despite a brilliant performance in the other five rounds.
In the 10m platform preliminaries, it was two-time World Champion Gleb Galperin from Russia who experienced some difficulty with the same dive. Galperin was worrying mostly about his Armstand Reverse (3.0 DD), a new diving combination that was included to his free programme at the beginning of the year. He got quite high marks for execution and assumed that the most important part of the work was done.
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.
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