Gold and silver for China; 2009 champion Espinosa (MEX) in third

Shanghai 2011 - Diving

Chen Ruolin (CHN) - Credit: Giorgio ScalaChen Ruolin came to Shanghai as a strong favourite. The two-time Olympic Games winner also had gold medals in Rome 2009 and Melbourne 2007 in synchronised diving. Moreover, she was first in individual platform at the 2006, 2008 and 2010 World Cup. Finally, she accumulated 11 victories at Grand Prix events. An enormous roll of honour for such a tiny athlete – just 1.36m for a mere 30kg weight!

The advantage of her compatriot Hu Yadan was clear during the preliminary competition. The 15-year-old newcomer got the best result with a 11-point advantage over Chen Ruolin. Then, Hu also won the semi-final and the advantage increased to 17.70. The semi-final score of the young Chinese was remarkable: Hu Yadan got six “tens” for her last dive (96.00 in total) and 403.65, in general.

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Indomitable Ishchenko, Fuentes at her best

Shanghai 2011 - Synchronised Swimming

altThe story of Natalia Ishchenko is one made of sacrifice, perseverance, vision and some luck. Like all the champions’ stories. In a big nation like Russia, it is not easy to be noticed in an artistic sport. Moreover, being spotted while still a teenager is more of a challenge than a blessing. But Natalia was courageous and remained determined. Back then, some years ago, and now, while flawlessly performing at the World Championships stage.

Winner of the Solo free event tonight in Shanghai, with an unbeatable score of 98.550, her story started when she was young and learning rhythmic gymnastics. The Russian great got noticed while competing at a junior competition by Tatiana Pokrovskaia, head coach of the national team since 1998 (the year Russia made its first gold sweep in all synchro events at World Championships in Perth, Australia).

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World champion Serbia fires past Romania

Shanghai 2011 - Water Polo

World champion Serbia moved a step closer to the quarter-finals by breezing past Romania 12-5 in day-two men’s water polo action at the Natatorium this morning.

The second straight Group B win was achieved with panache as the team displayed all its firepower and strengths against a team not unlike the Serbs.

Serbia’s raft of stars produced dynamic plays, especially with close-up magic, preferring to take shots from one metre rather than outside.

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Spyridon Gianniotis of Greece, a three time Olympian, wins men's 10km

Shanghai 2011 - Open Water Swimming

Spyridon ("Spyros") Gianniotis of Greece, a three time Olympian is heading to his 4th Olympic Games. The 31 year old placed 16th in the inaugural 10km event in Beijing but he surely will be considered one of the favourites in the London Olympic Marathon 10km after capturing the world title in the men's 10km event today at Jinshan Beach, Shanghai. Gianniotis has previously shown his strength in the 5km event, placing third in the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne and second in the 2009 edition in Rome.

Gianniotis who felt he was in 35th position at the halfway mark was able to pass Britain's Daniel Fogg with about 1200m left in the race. Gianniotis overtook the defending world champion Thomas Lurz of Germany in the final 100m of the men's 10km marathon. Gianniotis and Lurz alternated the lead during a 750m sprint to the finish line. Gianniotis struck gold at 1:54.24.7, two and one half seconds ahead of Lurz, the most decorated male open water swimmer of the century. Lurz owns a bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 

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“We will never surrender!”

Shanghai 2011 - Synchronised Swimming

Resolved, more than ever. So felt the Spanish squad tonight after the conclusion of the technical programmes for Solo, Duet and Team, with a repeat of the podium Russia-China-Spain in all three events. With the first final of the free routines starting tomorrow, the question excites synchro fans more and more: Is it China or Spain which will be world number-2 after Shanghai? At this stage, here’s what we can say.  

Untouchable in all technical routines, Russia has a firm lock on the top spot and seems the less troubled by its main challengers’ recent progress, Spain and China. If the Russians rarely give extended comments about their rivals, they always congratulate them. As for the Russian squad’s routines, truth is that they practically speak for themselves. Perfect synchronisation, breath-taking strength and height in all figures are common indications of their magnificent performance. In the team event tonight, they showed what they do best, scoring a brilliant 98.300 points.

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