Harada and Suzuki advance to synchronized swimming final


Emiko Suzuki and Saho Harada advance to the synchronized swimming duet final at the Beijing Olympics after placing third in the free routine preliminary on Tuesday.

Suzuki and Harada, team silver medalists at the 2004 Athens Games, scored 48.500 points in the free routine preliminary at the Water Cube and have a combined total of 96.750 after collecting 48.250 in Monday’s technical routine.

Competing in their first international competition since winning gold at the 2007 world swimming championships in Melbourne, defending Olympic champions Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova of Russia scored 49.500 points and are top with 98.834.

“We performed well and you see our score is very high. In the free routine preliminary it is no surprise that we get a high score like this,” said Davydova.

Spain’s Andrea Fuentes and Gemma Mengual are in second place on 97.918 while Chinese twins Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen, who are coached by Japan’s Masayo Imura, are in fourth on 96.584.

The duets with the top 12 combined scores from the preliminary rounds advanced to the final. The free routine will be performed again on Wednesday.

Harada said she was pleased with their performance and hoped to build on it in Wednesday’s final.

“We started well yesterday and wanted to continue where we left off,” said Harada. “We did very well on our opening lift and that gave us great strength for the rest of the performance.”

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.