Japan pair in sync for silver medal


Japan’s Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda took the silver medal for a second straight Olympics in the synchronized swimming duet as the Russians maintained their dominance and won the event at the Athens Games on Wednesday.

News photoMiho Takeda (left) and Miya Tachibana perform during the duet routine final on Wednesday. The
Japanese pair took silver in the event.

The Japanese pair, in second position behind Russians Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova after Monday’s technical routine and Tuesday’s free-routine preliminary, displayed finesse in a humorous “Japanese Doll” routine to receive 49.417 points to total 98.417.

But reigning world champions Davydova and Ermakova got 49.917 points for their nearly flawless final routine for the best total of 99.334. Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova of the United States took the bronze medal with 97.167.

“I’m just glad I was able to give my best,” Tachibana said. “Head coach (Masayo) Imura has been looking after us for a long time and we’ve had our share of tough times, so I was relieved when she complimented us after the routine.”

Takeda also expressed satisfaction, saying, “We’ve been training very hard and it paid off today, so there’s a sense of accomplishment now. I was in good shape physically on all three days of the duet competition.”

Tachibana and Takeda, who were seeking to upset the Russian pair, challenged with a playful program featuring jerky moves in the image of a doll and started with a powerful combination of moves with just their legs above the water at the Olympic Aquatic Centre.

They earned three 9.9s for technical merit and four 9.9s for artistic impression and grabbed the lead with just Davydova and Ermakova left to perform.

But the Russian 21-year-olds stole the show with their superb synchronistic movements in their “Don Quixote” routine and drew unending applause from the stands before three of five judges awarded them a full 10.0 points for technique and all five gave them perfect marks for artistry.

Russians Olga Brusnikina and Maria Kisseleva won the gold in the event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics over Tachibana and Takeda.

In the duet competition, swimmers are judged on nine required elements incorporated into their technical routine, and their scores from the technical routine and the free-routine preliminary competition are added to decide which pairs advance to the final.

The scores from the final, also contested using the free routine, are combined with the technical routine score to determine the final ranking.