RUSSIA Wins Two Golds at Swim Worlds

Saturday, July 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) _ Russia won two gold medals at swimming's world championships Saturday, capturing an ocean race and a team title in synchronized swimming.

Italy's Viola Valli added the 25-kilometer women's open-water title to her victory in the 5K in Hakata Bay, where Russia's Yury Koudinov won the men's 25K.

In water polo, the U.S. men beat Canada 6-3, and the U.S. women defeated Brazil 12-2.

The pool races begin Sunday with heats in the men's 50-meter freestyle. One of the first racers will be Eric ``The Eel'' Moussambani, who made his name at the last Olympics not for speed, but for survival.

The swimmer from Equatorial Guinea recorded the slowest 100-meter freestyle in Olympic history, but won the hearts of the crowd with his grit.

Australia's Ian Thorpe, who holds world records at 200, 400 and 800 meters, will swim the 400 freestyle.

After a week of synchronized swimming and ocean racing, Russia had four golds and Italy three. Japan won its first synchronized swimming gold in a world championships or Olympics, and Germany also had one gold, for ocean racing.

Russia's gold in the team synchronized swimming was a repeat of its Olympic victory last year, but with an all new team.

Portraying witches to spooky classical music from ``Night on Bald Mountain,'' the Russians won perfect 10s from three of the five judges evaluating artistry. They also had one 10 for technique in a total score of 98.917.

Repeating the order of last year's Olympics, Japan took the silver with 98.083 and Canada took bronze with 97.453.

The United States placed fourth in the team, solo and duet events _ the first time it was out of the medals in a world championships. The Americans also were shut out for the first time in the Olympics.

Japan broke the Russian monopoly at this meet when Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda won the duet swim. Russia's Olga Brusnikina, already a world and Olympic duet and team gold medalist, won the solo.

Koudinov is a repeat champion in open-water swimming, which is not an Olympic event. He also won the 25K in Hawaii last fall in the first world championships exclusively for open-water races.

This time, he finished 28 seconds ahead of France's Stephane Gomez in 5 hours, 25 minutes, 32 seconds. France's Stephane Lecat was third.

Valli tired early in her race around an island and back, winning in 5:56:51. She finished 300 meters ahead of Dutch swimmer Edith Van Dijk, the 25K winner in Hawaii last year. Germany's Angela Maurer was third.

The first gold medals for races in the pool come Sunday night, all in 400-meter events _ men's freestyle individual and relay races and the women's individual medley.

Diving begins with two synchronized events _ the 3-meter springboard for men, the 10-meter platform for women. After capturing a record five gold medals at the Sydney Olympics, China is strongly favored.