China on the top of the world

Shanghai 2011 - Swimming

It all started with Diving. Today, only open water swimming is missing. In the mid-80s, China’s emergence in Aquatics debuted with their first stars in Diving, a discipline in which the Asian nation rules until the present day – in Shanghai, they have swept all the 10 diving titles on offer! Then, at the beginning of the 90s, came Swimming, with the first World Championships’ medals appearing at the 1991 FINA World Championships in Perth. By the time of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Chinese Synchronised Swimming appeared at the highest level and at these home championships, China obtained an unprecedented set of seven silver medals in the discipline. As far as two/three years ago, Chinese women’s Water Polo started to be feared by the traditional powerhouses in the game, and in Shanghai, the host nation is for the first time in the final of the women’s tournament. The weakest link remains Open Water Swimming, where China’s best results in Shanghai were an eighth place in the 5km Team Event and an individual 12th position in the women’s 10km race.

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World champion Serbia heads expected bunch in men's water polo semifinals Shanghai

Shanghai 2011 - Water Polo

altThe script has gone as expected in the FINA World Championship men's water polo competition with the top four teams in the world making the semifinals.

It was not without difficulties and none more so that Croatia's 9-6 victory over Balkan neighbour Montenegro.

With just 14 seconds left in the match and Montenegro consigned to the play-offs for fifth to eighth, Montenegro head coach Peter POROBIC called a timeout, which incurred the wrath of Croatian superstar head coach Ratko RUDIC.

"The timeout was not necessary in such a high-class game where goal differential does not matter," he said after the match.

This after a tirade of words from POROBIC to RUDIC in the mixed zone for about five minutes.

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Lochte defeats Phelps, France makes history

Shanghai 2011 - Swimming

altOver 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.

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Mighty world champion USA rumbled by Russia in women's water polo

Shanghai 2011 - Water Polo

GRE vs NED - credit: Russell McKinnonWorld 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.

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“Revenge Day” for Cielo, Huegill and Dale Oen

Shanghai 2011 - Swimming

credit: Giorgio ScalaCesar 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.

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