Perfect marks were shown for the first time in diving at the 18th FINA World Championships as Chinese rookie Chen Yuxi won the women’s 10m platform here on Wednesday. China now has nine gold medal on pocket.
Chinese women divers were waiting for this title since 2013, as Kim Kuk-hyang of DPR Korea was a surprise winner in Kazan 2015 and Malaysian veteran Cheong Jun Hoong topped the podium in Budapest 2017. The last Chinese champion in this event was Si Yajie six years ago in Spain.
Competing in her first worlds, Chen, who turns 14 in September, dominated the semifinal and all the way in the final to win a record-high 439 points for the title. Two perfect marks were given to her third dive 626C (Armstand back triple somersault) for a day-high 94.05 points. Then another 94.05 for her high quality 207C (Back 3 1/2 somersaults).
Olympic champion Ren Qian holds the highest record in women’s 10m platform – 454.65 -, when she earned gold at the 2016 World Cup, before finally becoming the Olympic champion.
Lu Wei is four months away to complete 14. As the synchro champion together with Zhang Jiaqi, Lu chased all the way to settle for the silver in 377.80, despite a big splash in her second attempt 407C (Inward 3 1/2 somersault tuck) with 62.40.
Delaney Schnell of the United Sates, who finished 27th in the preliminary two years ago in Budapest, jumped up from fifth to third place in 364.20, with her strong 407C finish. Melissa Wu of Australia and Pandelela Pamg of Malaysia were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Tonight’s final for the Mixed Technical Duet was packed with World Championship medallists from 2015 Kazan and 2017 Budapest. This is the third time that the Mixed Technical Duet is contested at the FINA World Championships.
Russian swimmers Mayya Gurbanberdieva and Aleksandr Maltsev, silver medallists in both 2015 and 2017, were ready to challenge the reigning World Champions Manila Flamini and Giorgio Minisini from Italy. Also in contention for the medals were the duet from the USA Bill May, the 2015 Kazan World Champion, paired with Natalia Vega Figuero, and the Japanese pair, Atsushi Abe and Yumi Adachi.
First to swim was the Russian pair, performing a passionate Tango dance in the water, Gurbanberdieva and Maltsev had an electrifying connection, which captivated the audience. Receiving 92.0749 points from the judges, they were unsurpassable and claimed Russia’s first gold medal in the Technical Mixed Duet event.
Manila Flamini and Giorgio Minisini, the Italian duet performed a love story in the water between two different species, a mermaid and a triton. Dramatizing the difficulties needed to be conquered, Flamini and Minisini received 90.8511 from the judges for the silver medal.
The race for the bronze medal would be between the Japanese Atsushi Abe and Yumi Adachi, and USA’s Bill May and Natalia Vega Figuero. Swimming a routine themed “Siren”, to music composed by Canadian Benoit Jutras, the Japanese duet, Atsushi Abe and Yumi Adachi, showed the seduction and tempting of a Siren on a sailor, while executing the required elements. Abe and Adachi received 88.5113 points earning the bronze medal, Japan’s first World Championship medal in the Mixed Technical event.
May and Vega’s routine themed “K Pop”, a Korean genre of pop music, was an upbeat, happy and animated routine. The music, their bright yellow suits, their presence in the water, was appreciated by the Korean spectators, but the 86.9235 was not enough to reach the podium.
Another milestone was reached in the development and progress of the Artistic Swimming discipline this evening in the second event on the program. It was the debut of the Highlight event at the 18th FINA World Championships. In 2017 the Highlight event was added to the Artistic Swimming events and it has been an official event for the 2018 and 2019 Artistic Swimming World Series.
A Highlight routine is swum with 10 athletes and must include a minimum of four acrobatic movements, a connected or intertwined action, and a float that gives a kaleidoscopic effect.
Tonight, in Gwangju, eight teams were in the running for the medals. Although, this number of participating countries is on the low side, the routines presented were full of energy, each one unique, with creative choreographies showing the acrobatic abilities of the athletes. The Highlight event was very well received by the spectators.
The Ukrainian Highlight routine, “Praying for Peace”, showed unique highlights and patterns that were distinctly superior, the handstand of one of the athletes on the feet of another possibly being the most memorable. For their exceptional performance depicting their hope for World Peace, the Ukrainian team received 94.5000 and the first World Championship gold medal in the Highlight event.
Italy’s Team, honoring the World Championships host Korea, with their routine themed “Dragons” celebrated the presence of the different type of Dragons in the Korean Culture. The Italian athletes donned creative caps with the dragon triangles characteristic of dragons. Their acrobatics were powerful, and earned them 91.7333, just edging out the Team from Spain, for the silver medal.
Swimming to music by the rock band AC-DC, the ten Spanish athletes performed a routine choreographed by Mayuko Fujiki, an Olympic medallist as an athlete (Atlanta 1996) and as a coach (2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing and 2016 Rio). The routine themed “Thunder” was supported by the energy, power and rhythm of the swimmers. Noteworthy were the “red and black leather” bathing suits, fitting attire for a rock concert. Receiving 91.1333 Spain claimed the bronze medal and the third step on the podium.
The 18th edition of the FINA World Championships in finally on, after the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the FINA showcase today in Gwangju (KOR). The event was officially launched at the highest level, when the President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in declared open the two-week Aquatic Festival. At his side, the FINA President Dr Julio C. Maglione wished all the participants in the competition “the best luck” and thanked the 194 National Federations – a new record in the history of the Championships – for sending their best representatives to “this dynamic city”.
“The great venues here in Gwangju will be the privileged scenario for thrilling results, and will show to the world the popularity and universality of our Aquatic Sports”, said the FINA President. “The set-up is ready for our Aquatic athletes to compete in the spirit of FINA – Excellence, Friendship, Respect and Fair-Play. Gwangju will be an excellent host of FINA’s greatest Aquatic Festival! Thousands of people on site and millions of TV viewers and digital users around the world will witness an outstanding competition”, considered Dr Maglione.
The highlight of the Opening Ceremony was naturally the parade of the participating countries. Over 16 days, until July 28, around 2500 athletes will compete in six aquatic disciplines, fighting for medals in the 76 events of the Championships.
The Mayor of Gwangju, Lee Yong-sup, was visibly happy to welcome the aquatic world in his city. “We hope you can live one of the greatest emotions of your life here in Gwangju. Our 1.5 million citizens are also ready to live an unforgettable experience”, said Mr Lee.
The 90 minute-show included many interesting moments, namely traditional Korean music, acrobatic choreographies, mixing light and water. The anthem of the Republic of Korea was interpreted by a children choir, while both the national and FINA flag were brought on stage by former Korean sport stars.
The performance of K-Pop music band Momoland was the great finale for a apotheosis that gave the tone of the Championships – modern, dynamic and diverse.
Diving and Artistic Swimming
Before the Opening Ceremony show, preliminaries in Diving and Artistic Swimming took place during the day – respectively the men’s and women’s 1m springboard, and the solo and duet technical prelims.
The first finals of the competition will be held this Saturday, with the Open Water 5km Men, the Solo Technical in Artistic Swimming, and in Diving the Mixed 10m platform synchro, women’s 1m springboard, and men’s 3m springboard synchro
The 18th FINA World Championships, in Gwangju, Korea, is less than a month away (July 12-28) and final venue and organisation preparations are being completed.
The modern village, that will be divided into three separate zones, is set to welcome the aquatic elite athletes as well as the officials and the international media covering the championships, while sports venues are also in the last stages of preparation to host FINA’s six disciplines.
A total of five venues will be in operation in Gwangju and Yeosu: The Gwangju’s Nambu University (swimming, water polo, diving) is the first venue in the nation to adopt a state-of-the-art operation system to provide the best water quality for the athletes and is on the path to become one of Asia’s most user friendly swimming facilities. The temporary water polo field will be built on a football pitch adjacent to the University. After the competition, the football field will be restored to its initial purpose.
While Gwangju’s strengths lie in the quality of the venues, an efficient transportation plan, suitable accommodation, excellent TV production and good promotion plan, the local Organising Committee is assuring that the city is ready to welcome FINA showcase, the third in Asia after Fukuoka (JPN, 2001) and Shanghai (CHN, 2011).
Confident of an excellent outcome next July, FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione said:
“The Gwangju proposal was quite attractive and we knew Korea had an enormous potential to organise a major event of this calibre. Your country has hosted the summer and winter Olympic Games, as well as many other international events, and this accumulated experience is a precious asset to ensure a successful organisation of the FINA World Championships. The Gwangju bid was quite solid and we have received those guarantees from both the city of Gwangju, but also from the Government of Korea.”
President Maglione added:
“The event will generate a lot of interest from the youth and children all around the country. Many of today’s stars have initiated and are excelling in aquatic sports after watching their heroes on the TV screens during their childhood. I am sure that some future Korean stars will say, in some years from now, that it all started by following their idols at these FINA World Championships in Gwangju.”
Designed with the stars of swimming in mind, FINA has been extremely satisfied by the positive reactions of champions invited to take part in the inaugural leg of the FINA Champions Swim Series in Guangzhou, China.
Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) said: “Thanks FINA for inviting me to compete in the first leg of the Series. It is very interesting that swimming has changed a lot this year. A lot of new competitions are coming up. I managed to win two events today. It is great to be here and to challenge the best swimmers before the World Championships in Gwangju, Korea, in July,”
“It was great to have the opportunity to compete with the best swimmers more often. Usually we only compete against each other at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. It is very important for the sport of swimming.”
Katinka Hosszu (HUN) echoed the founder of the modern Olympic Games with her emphasis on the importance of participation. Hosszu was one of the swimmers who took part in the Mixed 4×100 Medley Relay with teams drawn at random just before the race, another innovation: “The meaning of the competition is not the victory or results, but the race itself. I competed a lot and I just tried my best. And this new competition may push more swimmers, more stimulus and have more fans, and make swimming more popular and generate more revenue for the sport and the swimmers. The entertainment part of the competition was so good!”
The FINA Champions Swim Series combined innovations in both sports presentation and format, including a pre-competition draw to decide the relay teams, to deliver a fresh and stimulating experience for spectators, fans and athletes alike: “I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere with the audience and the breath-taking race,” said Fu Yuanhui (CHN).
Her comments were echoed by Ben Proud (GBR): “I think FINA, the swimmers and the audience together can make a successful Champions Swim Series.”
Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) clearly enjoyed the innovations, too: “I think the fun part of this new competition was the music and the dance show before and after the events. It made both the swimmers and the fans excited and relaxed.”
Ye Shiwen (CHN) enjoyed the camaraderie among this select group of elite athletes: “This competition was a great chance to communicate with the best swimmers in the world.”
While Felipe Lima (BRA) can’t wait for more: “I hope I can swim faster in the next leg and wish this kind of competitions were more available.”
The Olympic medal-winning Russians Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Svetlana Romashina are only the two out of some 20 prominent names on the entry list for the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series in Kazan to be launched this Friday as the artistic week-end in the heart of Russia will kick off on April 19, to hit the tape in 3 days.
The event, hosted by the Kazan’s Aquatics Palace, is the third out of eight legs in the 2019 circuit, which is designed to reach climax in Budapest at the Super Final premiere later this mid-June. Like the Hungarian capital, Tatar’s city is pretty well known in the aquatics world. Appearing on the map in 2013, Kazan turned out to be a proud host for the FISU Summer Universiade, two years later (2015) it provided background to the FINA World Championships and FINA World Masters Championships. Kazan already hosted 3 Junior World Championships in artistic swimming and diving, and a number of other top level competitions such as diving and swimming events, though never before had a chance to offer hospitality for the Artistic Swimming World Series. Finally, the gap shall be filled this April, bringing here a selection of the world’s best names.
Some 300 athletes of 12 nations will have 3 busy days, swimming 5 technical (solo, mixed duet, duet and team) and 5 free routines (solo, mixed duet, duet, team, combination and highlight). The participants number impresses as the 3rd leg of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series integrates the Russian Championships one of the strongest in the continent.
Ten sets of medals are again on offer, including a very spectacular mixed duets contest, introduced exactly four years ago in the same city.
All eyes on stars
As for the stars to watch, the Russian girls will be the major attractions, as they normally are wherever they come. Italy, China, Belarus, Hungary and Austria are among the main contenders for the podium spots.
Svetlana Kolesnichenko will hope to bring her vast experience to mark her official start of the international season. Last year, the 2016 Olympic champion and 13 times World champion set the bar at sky high with 95.5000 points for the free program, whereas her teammate Varvara Subbotina posted a season-best in the tech event, 94.1509. However, the latter will not be a part competition this weekend, the same holding true for the “reigning queens”. Ukrainian Marta Fiedina and Yukiko Inui of Japan, recording the 2019 best at 92.7000 for free and 90.5294 for technical programmes, will not come to Kazan leaving the door open for Vasilina Khandoshka of Belarus. Remember her breakthrough bronze at the inaugural leg of the ASWS 2019 in Paris. Top class swim shall be expected by the Italian star Linda Cerruti, already silver this year (solo free, leg#1). In Kazan, she is going to swim both solos cherishing a good hope to add up to her 6 medals collection of 2018.
The very Linda Cerruti pairing her many-year partner Costanza Ferro shall be a sure bet in duets.
Last year they hit 1-2 in both routines, and already got a silver at each of the two previous FINA ASWS 2019 stops. Although they could never reach before the Ukrainian headliners Marta Fiedina/Anastasiia Savchuk and the Aleksiiva sisters (who collected the best harvest on points: 91.4462 – for technical, and 92.8000 for free programme), Kazan will give them a good chance to exhibit.
A great comeback of Svetlana Romashina to match Svetlana Kolesnichenko is in the focus, of course. With their eyes on Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the home hopes are more than ready to present in Russia their new programs.
Next month, from April 27-28, the first meet of the first ever edition of the FINA Champions Swim Series will inaugurate the three-leg 2019 circuit in Guangzhou, China.
As entry lists are being carefully put together on an invite-only basis, many big swimming names have confirmed their participation and a warm welcome was received for the new top-notch Series so far.
Elite athletes from the five continents are ready to compete in thrilling races, not only setting the pace for the 2019 season, but also defining (or reconfirming) the world hierarchy before two important rendezvous, the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju (KOR) and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (JPN).
The second leg will be held in Budapest (HUN) from May 11-12, while the third and last meet will be staged in Indianapolis (USA) from May 31-June 1.
These three partners in Asia, Europe and America responded “present” when asked by FINA to support this innovative concept, which will lead to the improvement of Swimming’s image and exposure around the globe.
From the organisers’ side, Guangzhou, Budapest and Indianapolis will largely benefit from this additional opportunity to enhance their position of sports cities on the world map. The three Organisers are doing their utmost to provide optimal condition for all Series’ participants. They are solid and long-time FINA partners and they couldn’t miss this opportunity to make history in the sport of Swimming. FINA is carefully following the respective preparations for the event, and is are quite confident and optimistic for an excellent outcome.
FINA is conscious of the Aquatics attractiveness in the ever growing and challenging current sports environment. FINA’s disciplines generate a huge interest from the spectators on site, but also from fans, remotely connected worldwide. This is due to the fascination for our Stars, who are constantly giving their best to raise the level in their respective disciplines.
FINA is already recognising the athletes effort, by providing financial support to their participation in our major events, by regularly improving the prize money for the best, and by paying a fair tribute to their performance through our annual “FINA World Aquatics Gala – Soirée des Etoiles”.
The new Champions Swim Series is FINA’s latest innovation to jump into an even more spectacular way to display and present our events. This is the philosophy behind the creation of the event which focuses on the sports presentation with ultimate aim to attract the top-stars of our sports in a competition where “sport” and “entertainment” are the key words.
With a new competition format – only four athletes per race, taking par in a final-only race -, an unprecedented level of prize money and very attractive conditions for participation, this circuit will surely create a milestone in the Swimming calendar and will very soon become an unmissable competition for our athletes.