Synchronised swimming duo takes first ever medal
Spaniards Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes bag a silver medal in the duet synchronised swimming competition in Olympics.21 August 2008
BEIJING - For the first time in its history, Spain has an Olympic medal in synchronised swimming.
After three days of competition, Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes scored a combined 98.334 points, enough to warrant a silver medal in the duet competition.
The Spaniards were second only to Russia's unstoppable pool pair, Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova, who totalled for a gold-grabbing 99.251. Harada Saho and Suzuki Emiko of Japan finished third.
The Russian team, who held a 0.416 lead over Spain after Tuesday's free routine preliminary, upped their performance in Wednesday's final, where their close-to-flawless routine drew perfect 10.0 scores from eight of the technical merit and artistic impression judges. The gold is the pair's second consecutive Olympic top honour.
But Spain's silver victory was especially sweet for 31-year-old Mengual, who in her last Olympic Games, achieved what had been at arms reach in Athens, where she and her former partner, Paola Tirados, finished fourth.
"It's like we are in bliss," said a beaming Mengual after receiving her medal.
Mengual's coach Anna Tarrés was effusive in her praise for the retiring swimmer. "Perhaps there is no other athlete like Gemma, who has had to work so hard to get to this medal. We started 10 years ago... in 10 years we have achieved this small miracle," she said.
On Friday, the synchronised swim team will return to the pool to try to repeat Wednesday's success in the team event.
In other Olympic news, Spain's handball team beat South Korea 29-24 to reach the semi-finals.
The Spanish men's basketball team has made it through to the Olympic semi-finals, after beating Croatia 72-59 in their quarter-final encounter Wednesday.
[El Pais / Kelly Ramundo / Expatica]