Facebook Twitter

Japan gets solid gold at world synchro event

SHARE Japan gets solid gold at world synchro event

FUKUOKA, Japan — Japan won its first gold medal in synchronized swimming at a world championships, with Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda gyrating through the water like identical windup toys.

Performing before an exuberant home crowd Friday, the pair received perfect marks of 10 from four of the five judges evaluating artistic impression. The pair also had one 10 for technical merit, yielding a total of 98.910.

"I am over the moon," Tachibana said. "My dream was to make my coach cry, but I'm in tears myself."

Swimming last, right after the Japanese, Russia's Anastasia Davydov and Anastassia Ermakova took the duet competition silver with 98.390, including one 10 for technique.

Canada's Claire Carver-Dias and Fanny Letourneau earned the bronze with 96.704. Americans Becky Martin and Lauren McFall placed fourth with 96.387.

In 24 past world championship synchronized swimming events, Japan had won seven silver medals and 16 bronzes, but no golds. Tachibana and Takeda were silver medalists in 1998 and at last year's Olympics. Japan has yet to win Olympic gold in the sport.

A near capacity crowd of more than 5,000 greeted the Japanese pair's entrance with rhythmic clapping and a sea of small Japanese flags. A thunderous ovation followed announcement of the perfect scores.

"The cheers gave me a boost and really pushed me into the event," Takeda said.

Davydov said that performing right after the high-scoring Japanese, "we had the jitters. . . . This is the first big international event for us, so we are very happy with this medal."

In solo competition Thursday night, Tachibana was a repeat bronze medalist, behind Russia's Olga Brusnikina and France's Virginie Dedieu, a repeat silver medalist.

Dedieu and Myriam Glez placed sixth in the duet.

Brusnikina turned to solo competition after winning duet golds in the 1998 worlds and 2000 Olympics.

Russia still led the overall medal count with two golds and six in all. Italy also has two golds, both from ocean racing, and Germany and Japan one each.

Water polo had a rest day Friday while attention turned to the world championships' opening ceremony, scheduled on Japan's Ocean Day national holiday. Prince Akishino, the Japanese emperor's second son, formally opened the meet.

Swimming races in the indoor pool at Marine Messe convention center and diving, at another pool, start Sunday.