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Japanese pair third in synchronized swimming

Compiled From Kyodo, AP

BEIJING — Emiko Suzuki and Saho Harada finished in third place in the duet technical routine in the synchronized swimming competition at the Beijing Olympics on Monday.

Suzuki and Harada, members of the squad that won the silver medal in the team event at the Athens Games four years ago, got a total of 48.250 points, 1.084 behind Russia’s defending champions Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova.

Spanish pair Andrea Fuentes and Gemma Mengual were in second place with 48.834, while Chinese twins Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen trailed Japan by 0.166 point.

“We came to this competition with resolve, so we wanted to show our liveliness,” Suzuki said. “We were really concentrated while swimming today. Seeing the Japanese spectators holding the Japanese flag helped us.”

Davydova and Ermakova performed flawlessly to a Russian public dance tune in the opening session, and led the duet technical routine.

The Russians recorded a score of 49.334 before a full crowd at the Water Cube.

“Our coach wishes to present Russian spirit through our competition at the Olympics,” Davydova said. “It’s the first time we’ve used a Russian melody at the Olympics and we were surprised to see that the Spanish team also chose Russian music.”

With the Russians absent, Mengual and Fuentes won the Olympic qualifying tournament in April.

Mengual also swept the solo and duet (with Fuentes) titles at the European Championships in March, but the Spanish synchro standout has never won an Olympic medal.

“In all the competitions that we attended, they didn’t win,” Davydova said. “In Europe, the Spanish team is very strong, but overall the Russian team is better.”

Davydova and Ermakova, had not performed in international competition since winning at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia, last year.

Japan has won a medal in synchro in every Olympics since the discipline was introduced at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, and Harada and Suzuki are in position to extend that trend.

The duet free routine preliminary round is scheduled for Tuesday, with the top 12 ranked pairs advancing to Wednesday’s final.

Using music composed by Elton John, the American pair Christina Jones and Andrea Nott placed fifth with 47.750.