Featured image of Sascha Klein is courtesy of Lars Bormann / LARS BORMANN photography.
Day 2 of the FINA World Championships only saw two sets of medals handed out, but that doesn’t mean it was shy on activity: Sunday in Barcelona was the beginning of the women’s water polo tournament at the Piscines Bernat Picornell in Barcelona.
First, the overall, all-sports medal table after two days:
A huge upset in diving came on the men’s 10-meter synchro platform. Diving outside against a backdrop of scenic Barcelona, Sascha Klein and Patrick Hausding enlisted a major upset when they bested Yuan Cao and Yanquan Zhang for the title, earning Germany’s second medal of the championships.
Cao and Zhang were the defending Olympic Champions in the event, whereas Hausding and Klein were only 7th in London. But the veteran Germans put up a spectacular performance in a relatively low-scoring competition to win with 461.46.
Meanwhile, Cao and Zhang slid to bronze behind Russia’s Victor Minibaev and Artem Chesakov, missing out on silver by fewer than four-tenths of a point.
The Chinese led the competition early, and their 99.36-point final dive was the highest individual dive score of the entire competition, but in round 4 (of 6) where the Germans and Russians shone, the Chinese faltered receiving execution scores as low as 5.0. Zhang recovered on the next dive, but Cao again had a sloppy 5th dive, which put them too far behind to catch up despite receiving one perfect 10 on their last attempt.
The Americans, David Bonuchi and Toby Stanley, were 10th, noting that this is a different duo than the David Boudia/Nick McCrory combination that took bronze at last year’s Olympics.
In women’s synchro, Russia’s Svetlana Romashina won her second gold medal, making her the first multi-medalist of the championship, pairing with Svetlana Kolesnichenko for gold in the women’s duet technical routine.
They finished with 97.300 points, well ahead of China’s Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen who were 94.900.
Thus far, the hosts from Spain have made their mark in the synchro events, winning their second bronze medal so far with a 93.800 finishing score.
The women’s water polo tournament got underway with a few really good matches, and a few blowouts. In the match-of-the-day, the Americans topped Greece by a score of 12-8, though the score was more lopsided than what observers saw.
The Greeks took an early 2-1 lead in a relative defensive battle early on (no surprise with the Americans having the best goalkeeper in the world (Betsy Armstrong). The two teams were tied at half-time, but then a third-and-fourth quarter offensive explosion carried the defending Olympic Champions from the USA ahead of the defending World Champions Greece for the first really serious result of this tournament.
Notably, 20-year old Maggie Steffens, who was the youngest member of that Olympic gold medal winning team, has showed that she is ready to take the mantle of leadership for this team, even with sister Jessica not on the Worlds squad. She played 29 out of a possible 32 minutes in this match (seven minutes longer than anybody else on the Americans side). The Greeks, meanwhile, looked good in the first half, but a lack of depth caught up to them late: their 5 starters in the field added up to around 157 minutes of playing time, while the Americans limited their starters to 106. That should benefit them as this tournament wears on.
In the late game, the Canadians topped Great Britain 14-9, let by an efficient night from Krystina Alogbo, who scored 4 goals on 6 shots. For the Canadians, who are medal contenders, it was overall a very strong performance, though to earn gold there are a few things to clean up: Monika Eggens was 0/9 shooting, including four 5-meter shots, and starter Dominique Perreault received her third exclusion foul after only 15 minutes in the water.
In Group A, Russia won 22-6 thanks to a big 6 goals from Ekaterina Prokofyeva on only 7 shots against their neighbors from Uzbekistan. She becomes the early leader in the tournament for high-scorer with that output.
Also in that group, the hosts from Spain got off to a good start over the Netherlands women 14-12. This is two programs headed in opposite directions, as the Spanish women in 2012 won a shocking silver medal in their first ever Olympic appearance, while the Dutch women failed to qualify for last year’s Olympics after winning gold in 2008.
The Australian women rolled in group B, which might be the lightest group of the tournament, topping New Zealand 15-4. New Zealand was decent when they were able to put shots on target, but that just didn’t happen often enough as they shot only 13% for the match. The Australians got a good opportunity to rest their starters too, even getting in some time for their backup goalkeeper Kelsey Wakefield as she split the match with starter Lea Barta.
In the other match out of the group, China romped South Africa 17-2.
Finally, in Group D, Hungary rocked the South American champions from Brazil by a score of 20-6, with an even more lopsided 12-2 edge until an explosive 4th-quarter that saw the Hungarians outscore the Brazilians 8-4. Another young player, Rita Keszthelyi, put up 5 goals for the Hungarians.
And finally, Italy topped Kazakhstan 9-7; the Kazakhs largely outplayed their opponents in this match (though neither team was all that powerful offensively), but a 5-0 lopsided margin in the 2nd quarter made the difference.
Russia 22, Uzbekistan 6 (A)
Spain 14, Netherlands 12 (A)
Australia 15, New Zealand 4 (B)
China 17, South Africa 2 (B)
USA 12, Greece 8 (C)
Canada 14, Great Britain 9 (C)
Hungary 20, Brazil 6 (D)
Italy 9, Kazakhstan 7 (D)
What’s up Tomorrow
Open water will be back in action on Monday, as medals are handed out in the premier men’s 10 kilometer event. Diving will hand out medals in the men’s 1-meter springboard and the women’s synchronized platform finals, and synchronized swimming will award its team technical routine awards.
The men’s water polo tournament will also get underway. The premier match of the first day will be the Americans, looking to avenge a disappointing Olympic performance, against the defending Olympic Champions from Croatia. Croatia won this match in the quarterfinals of London by a margin of 8-2.
Full results from all events are available on OmegaTiming.com.