Triple Olympic gold medallist Natalia Ishchenko secured her first title of the London 2016 European Aquatics Championships with synchronised swimming Free Solo gold.
The Russian was an overwhelming favourite to finish on top in London, having won the World title with the same routine in Kazan last year and come through yesterday’s prelims in first.
And Ishchenko delivered in style, scoring 96.4000 to land her 10th European gold medal, a decade after scooping her first three at the 2006 Championships in Budapest.
Ukraine’s Anna Voloshyna won silver and Italy’s Linda Cerruti bronze while Great Britain’s Olivia Federici placed 10th in her first international final as a soloist.
But nobody could match Ishchenko’s precise, controlled figures and lightning-fast spins as the Russian finished three points clear of the field after a near-flawless performance of her complex routine to a medley of music by German violinist David Garrett.
“We didn’t change anything in the Solo routine from Kazan as in the Olympic year we have to focus on the events in the Games programme,” said Ishchenko. “But I think this time it was even a bit better.
“I expected to win this gold and I can tell you I was much more nervous this morning when we presented our new Duet routine with Svetlana [Romashina] for the first time.
“It was very technical so it took a lot of energy. But it’s a good feeling that it was fine and our coach was satisfied both in the morning and in the afternoon.”
Voloshyna and Cerruti secure podium places
Voloshyna has cemented herself as one of the world’s best international soloists in recent years, winning bronze at the 2014 Europeans and finishing fourth at last year’s World Championships.
And her final performance in London underlined her progress over the past 12 months, as she improved on her 93.1333 from Kazan to score 93.4000 for her expressive routine to ‘Cavaleiro Monge’ by Portuguese singer Mariza.
Italy’s Linda Cerruti has also been a swimmer on the rise, and she claimed a maiden international Solo medal with bronze.
It threatened to be a heartbreaking night for the 22-year old, who is coached by Russia’s four-time Olympic gold medallist Anastasia Ermakova, after she was handed a time point penalty for her routine.
But after a nail-biting wait for the scores to be confirmed, her final result of 89.4333 was just enough to secure her position on the podium ahead of Spain’s Cristina Salvador (89.2333) in fourth.
Federici improves on prelim score for GB
Federici left nothing in the pool with her expressive and passionate routine to Jack White and Alicia Keys’ ‘Another Way To Die’ from the Bond film, ‘Quantum of Solace’, improving on her prelim score to finish with 82.0667.
“It was a really good performance for me,” said Federici, who reached the Duet Free Final earlier in the day with partner Katie Clark.
“I had a good prelim but I wanted to show that I was free with my moves but highlight my control and execution, and I definitely feel I managed to do that.
“I’ve never done the Solo internationally before so it’s been a great challenge for me. Personally it’s been really exciting to push myself and see what more I can do.”
“Tomorrow I’ve got the Duet Free Final which I’m really looking forward to and we’ve got some improvements that we know we can bring to improve and make the routine stronger reaching the 80 scores.”
- Click here for full results from the Solo Free Final.
Tickets for the European Aquatics Championships – the biggest event to be held at the London Aquatics Centre since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games – are still available either online HERE or on the door for the first five days.
Swimming news courtesy of LEN 2016.