July 26 - Russia extended its 15-year reign as kings of synchronised swimming by clinching their eighth consecutive title in the team free event at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi arena today.
The eight Russian swimmers staged a dramatic performance, unveiling a brand-new free programme, which incorporated precise, intricate legwork and sky-high lifts executed with brilliant control.
A score of 97.400 points from the Russians (pictured top), who completed a clean sweep of medals London 2012, continuined a record which has seen them win every gold medal in both the team and duet events since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, proved too much for a talented Spanish team who finished second.
"We are a new team, four of our teammates retired after the 2012 London Olympics," said a delighted Svetlana Kolesnichenko of Russia after the competition.
"We did a good performance, we performed well all the lifts and elements and our result is the highest-ever achieved for this routine so our coach [Tatiana Pokrovskaia] was very happy."
Cheered on by the home crowd, the Spanish swimmers performed a new artistic programme set to the theme of "Samsara", which means "continuous flow" or reincarnation in Tibetan, and finished with a score of 94.230, enough to secure the hosts second silver medal of the Championships to add to four bronze already in the bag.
Meanwhile, in the men's three metre springboard dive, Chong He of China claimed the title for the third World Championships in a row, securing his country's seventh diving gold out of eight at this year's Championships.
The Beijing 2008 gold medallist bounced back from a poor third dive to win the competition by more than 36 points from Russia's Evgeny Kuznetsov whose teammate and London 2012 champion Ilya Zakharov surprisingly failed to make the final after finishing 14th in the semi-final.
Yahel Castillo finished behind Kuznetsov to hand Mexico its third bronze medal of the Championships, at the Montjuic Municipal Pool.
"It was a hard final, but I am happy with my performance," said He.
"The other athletes also prepared themselves very well and I sincerely congratulate all the medallists".
Earlier in the Championships, He secured the men's 10m synchronised diving gold with Kai Qin ahead of Kuznetsov and Sakharov, and has now equalled American Phil Boggs record of three individual world titles in the three metre diving springboard event, which Boggs achieved at the 1973, 1978 and 1982 World Championships.
The 26-year-old was in bullish mood following criticisms of the Chinese team's performance at London 2012.
"We don't need to prove anything," he said.
"Everyone knows the strength of our team and its capacity.
"If one fails, we keep on training, and we move forward.
"Nobody can be on the top all the time - we just need to grow-up, assimilate our mistakes and face positively the future.
"I perform some of the most difficult dives in the world, so I constantly need to evaluate my capacities."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
July 2013: Olympic silver medallist powers Germany to victory in world open water team event
July 2013: Double Olympic champion Romashina bags hat-trick of synchro golds at World Aquatics Championships
July 2013: Defending champion unhappy as Brazil take gold and silver in women's 10km open water at FINA World Championships
July 2013: China's Chen secures fourth world 10m synchro title
July 2013: German pair upset Chinese favourites to take diving gold at World Aquatics Championships