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Suzuki, Harada claim bronze in duet swim

by Gus Fielding

Kyodo News

BEIJING — Emiko Suzuki and Saho Harada captured the bronze medal in synchronized swimming on Wednesday, while Russia underlined its dominance of the event with victory in the duet final at the Beijing Olympics.

Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova, who led after the technical routine and free preliminary, successfully defended their title with another almost robotic display to score 49.917 points, finishing top with a combined total of 99.251.

Spain’s Andrea Fuentes and Gemma Mengual took silver on 98.334. Suzuki and Harada, team silver medalists at the 2004 Athens Games, won a minor medal duel with Chinese twins Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen, scoring 48.917 in the free routine to take the bronze with 97.167.

The score in the free preliminary was not carried into the final.

“This was an away match, so to speak, and we could hear how much the fans were cheering (for the Chinese) but we performed less nervously than I expected,” said Harada.

“If you worry about the scores of the other swimmers it can create uncertainty so we just focused on our performance. We have worked hard for the last four years for this and I am delighted,” she said.

Suzuki added: “More than feeling pleased I feel relieved. I had an eye on the rankings. We really wanted to win for our coach.”

Japan has won medals in all synchronized swimming events since the sport was introduced to the Olympic program in 1984, but has yet to strike gold.

Meanwhile, competing in their first international competition since winning gold at the 2007 world swimming championships in Melbourne, Davydova and Ermakova, who scored perfect 10s across the board for technical merit, were naturally delighted with the gold.