By Elaine Lies and Mayu Sakoda
TOKYO (Reuters) -With a spider-themed routine, fast moves and sharp coordination, Svetlana Romashina of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) won a record sixth gold on Wednesday to become the most decorated Olympian in synchronised swimming.
Romashina, 31, and partner Svetlana Kolesnichenko won the duet competition on Wednesday, taking Romashina to the top of the podium for the event in a third straight Games.
The gold medal added further lustre to a storied career that Romashina has said will end with retirement after Tokyo.
Romashina, the veteran of three previous Olympics and holder of 21 world titles, has a chance to take still more gold with the final team performance on Saturday. Russia has taken gold in every Olympic synchronised swimming event since Sydney in 2000.
From their start at the edge of the pool, with sinuous, spider-like movements, the ROC duo outclassed the rest of the field with the height of their boosts, the closeness of their swimming and their speed even at the end, when performers tend to get tired. They earned a combined score of 195.9079.
“I don’t think about that it’s the sixth medal,” Romashina told reporters after the event. “I just think about our work we have done. And of course we are very happy. I think that we are proud of our work of our team.”
Rio silver medallists Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan from China took silver again with a snake-themed routine in which their hands and eyes both suggested serpents as they spun through the water in green and silver suits.
The angle of their moves, high in difficulty level, and tightly synchronised spins helped earn them 192.4499 combined points, better than they did in a preliminary round earlier this week.
“We are satisfied with our scores,” Sun said. “We were more synchronized on some of our movements compared with the first day. We are also confident about our team performance.”
Ukrainians Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk edged out hosts Japan with 189.4620 for bronze, their nation’s first Olympic synchronised swimming medal.
“This is the first time Ukraine has won a medal. Of course, we’re so happy, we don’t have words,” Fiedina said.
“We work so many years, so many hours spent in the water, and this was not a surprise. We’ve been working so hard and doing all that we can.”
Synchronised swimming continues with team technical competition on Friday and team free on Saturday.
(Additional reporting by Akiko Okamoto, editing by Ed Osmond, Clare Fallon and Bill Berkrot)