Russia, China Gold Medal Leaders After 2 Days

Monday, March 19th 2007, 8:22 am
By: News On 6

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Ho hum. Another Russian synchronized swimming gold medal at the world championships, and more likely on the way. And chalk up two more diving golds for China.

A day after Russian swimmers won the free combination title with a near-perfect score of 99.000, Natalia Ischenko took gold in the synchronized swimming solo technical event Monday with the same total in the temporary pool at Rod Laver Arena.

That lifted Russia's overall gold total to three after Larisa Ilchenko won the open water 5-kilometer race Sunday for the fourth consecutive time at a world championship.

In the dive pool at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Qin Kai helped maintain the status quo, combining with 2005 champion Wang Feng to give China victory in the 3-meter synchro. In 2005, Wang and his then-partner He Chong won the same event at Montreal.

Wang and Qin were the leading qualifiers going into the six-dive final. But they immediately fell to fifth place after their opening dives, eventually moving up to fourth and then second before gaining the lead for good when the Russian team earned zeros twice after two badly flubbed dives.

"It had no effect on us," Qin said about the Russian problems. "We were concerned with our performance and what we have done in training."

Qin and Wang finished with 458.76 points. Canada's Alexandre Despatie and Arturo Miranda (418.92) were second and Germany's Tobias Schellenberg and Andreas Wels (414.54) took the bronze.

The Russians -- Aleksandr Dobroskok and Gleb Galperin – finished 12th and last.

In the women's 10-meter synchro, Jia Tong and Chen Ruolin helped give China more optimism for a big diving gold total at next year's Beijing Olympics. Again, a new partner helped China maintain its 2005 win, with Chen replacing Guo Jingjing to help give Jia another gold.

Diving and water polo were both affected by a power failure at the aquatic center. The men's 3-meter event was in the fourth round when the power went off, delaying the event for 25 minutes.

After two days of medal events at the world championships, China's two golds leaves it one behind Russia in the medal standings.

In opening women's water polo matches, defending gold medal champions Hungary played to a tough 8-8 tie with Italy; the United States, which won silver in 2005, beat the Netherlands 9-7; and Australia edged Canada 5-4.

Men's round-robin play gets underway Tuesday with 2005 champion Serbia meeting Germany.

Russia could win another synchronized swimming gold on Tuesday in the technical duet. World and Olympic champions Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova led the preliminaries on Saturday with a score of 98.500 for their passionate Tango routine.

They're heavy favorites to win gold Tuesday and give Davydova her third duet world title. And Russia is favored in Wednesday's team technical after leading the preliminaries Monday.

The women's 10-kilometer open water swim is scheduled Tuesday for Port Phillip Bay off the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda. Ilchenko will try to complete the gold medal double and repeat her victory from last year's worlds in Naples, Italy.