Bicycle allows Canada to fly

Shanghai 2011 - Synchronised Swimming

altA bicycle, by nature, is a relatively slow means of transport. In Canada, it has wings and allows to fly. Nonsense? Not in the case of the local synchronised swimming teams. In 2000 and 2001, respectively at the Sydney Olympics and the Fukuoka FINA World Championships, Claire Carver-Dias simulated riding a bicycle in a routine meant to symbolise different sports. 10 years later, Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon is the new “bicycle girl”, after performing the same element in Shanghai. Thanks to this and many other spectacular figures, Canada got a thrilling bronze medal in the Free Combination event, in what was probably the most interesting final of the programme so far.

With one team to go, things looked pretty much the same as in previous days, with Russia comfortably first, China second, and Spain (2009 champion in this event), third. But then, the Canadians entered the water and definitely stole the show with a breathtaking performance in their pet event, finally obtaining a medal after a disappointing fourth place in all previous events. Performing on a medley of Queen, the energetic squad presented a brand-new routine, offering an astonishing array of lifts and throws, frequently punctuated by bursts of applause and wild cheering. Bronze medallists already in Rome (2009) and in Changshu last year, the Canadians leave the Shanghai Oriental Sport Centre with a renewed confidence tonight.

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Historic victory for Greece over Russia in women’s water polo

Shanghai 2011 - Water Polo

altGreece created history in beating Russia for the first time at a FINA World Championship in women’s water polo competition at the Natatorium today.

A penalty goal to Antigoni ROUMPESI just inside the final minute broke the deadlock for a 6-5 success that repeated the previous victory over Russia, in Kirishi, Russia, at the 2005 FINA World League Super Final. Since then there have been several draws, including at the European Championships but today’s victory was momentous.

The win secured Group C success with three narrow losses for Greece while Russia’s international woes this year continue. In Tianjin, China, last month, Italy gained a 21-20 margin over Russia in the FINA World League Super Final quarter-finals, eventually finishing fifth.

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USA trio capture first medal in World Championships with victory in 5km Team Event

Shanghai 2011 - Open Water Swimming

altA trio of open water swimmers from the United States captured the first gold medal for their country at the FINA World Championships in the 5km Team Event today at Jinshan Beach, Shanghai. Americans Andrew Gemmell, Sean Ryan, and Ashley Twichell finished in 57:00.6, just 1.2 seconds faster than the Melissa Gorman, Rhys Mainstone and Ky Hurst of Australia.

The team from Germany placed third, more than 43 seconds after the Americans. The German squad was composed of Jan Wolfgarten, Isabelle Haerle and Thomas Lurz, the world's most accomplished swimmer at the 5km distance. Lurz has won every FINA 5km world championship event since 2005 and placed second in yesterday's men's 10km, qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics. Lurz was a bronze medallist in the 10km Marathon Swim at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.  

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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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