By Rod Gilmour
KAZAN, Russia, (Reuters) - Russia ended the synchronized swimming events at the world championships on a high note by winning the women’s free combination on Saturday. Their routine to "Don Quixote" by Ludwig Minkus delighted a near-capacity crowd of 12,000 as the Russian team of 10 scored 98.30 points to take gold inside a rain-swept Kazan Arena.
Russia held off China, who recorded 96.20 points, while Japan, the last team of 12 to compete in the final, overtook Ukraine to snatch bronze, with 93.80. “We feel very happy the competitions have finally ended. I hardly escaped from the girls' hugs," Russia head coach Tatiana Pokrovskaya told reporters.
“It was a perfect performance by our team. Our competitors are falling a long way behind us, including the USA". Russia’s final evening win meant that the host nation finished with eight of a possible nine golds in Kazan, having dominated with seven golds from seven disciplines in the championships two years ago in Barcelona.
China’s silver was their sixth of the week. Angelika Timanina, Alla Shishkina and Aleksandra Patskevich, three stalwarts of the Russian team, finished their world championship with a fourth successive gold after first contributing to a Russian title-winning routine in 2009. Gold for another team member, Svetlana Romashina, meant that she and free duet partner Natalia Ishchenko have now won 40 world titles between them. The only world title not to fall Russia’s way came in the mixed duet technical event.
The American duo, 36-year-old Bill May and 27-year-old Christina Jones who are professional Cirque du Soleil performers, held off Russia to win gold. Traditionally a women-only discipline, the mixed duet competition was the first time that men had featured in the synchronized swimming at a world championships.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)