Geoff Berkeley, World Aquatics Correspondent
The People’s Republic of China completed a sensational clean sweep of the mixed team gold medals following a fabulous free routine in Doha.
China were in a class of their own as they captured the Mixed Team Free title in fantastic fashion, adding to their success in the Mixed Team Acrobatic Routine and Mixed Team Technical at the World Aquatics Championships – Doha 2024.
It is their sixth artistic swimming gold medal in total in the Qatari capital, underlining their current dominance in the sport.
Japan and the United States of America both earned their second medals of the World Championships, sealing silver and bronze respectively.
Mixed Team Treble Completed By China
China were hot favourites to retain the Mixed Team Free crown having come out on top at Budapest 2022 and Fukuoka 2023 and registered a big score in the preliminaries.
And they were in no mood to relinquish their title as they put on a crowd-pleasing show with their amazing “Gravitation” choreography.
There was no Wang Liuyi and Wang Qianyi, the twins who will leave Doha with four golds to their names but their replacements Cheng Wentao and Li Xiuchen ensured China remained the top artistic swimming team.
They wowed the judges with stunning back-to-back acrobatic moves to start their routine before executing a hybrid with a difficulty level of 10.300 featuring five pattern changes.
It was a wonderful performance to cap a high-quality final as they received a winning score of 339.7604, including 217.0604 for elements and 122.700 for artistic impression to a difficulty of 56.400.
“We are extremely happy for this achievement and despite the fact that we are from China and cannot celebrate with our families and with the people who love us we will celebrate with the gold medal hanging on our necks,” said China’s Feng Yu.
Teammate Xiao Yanning added: “We are very excited to achieve such a high score tonight. This all is a result of all the factors together but first of all, our hard training during the past few months. This is something we hoped for and all the hard work paid off.”
Japan Seize Silver Again
Last year, Japan had a home World Championships to remember as they topped the medal table with four golds, one silver and two bronzes.
Medals have been harder to come by for Japan in Doha but they made sure they matched their Fukuoka 2023 efforts in the Mixed Team Free, seizing silver for the second successive year.
Performing their routine, entitled “Chess”, Japan rarely got a move wrong as they showcase great artistry and synchronicity.
They produced superb acrobatic and hybrid moves in a spellbinding performance that earned them a score of 315.2229 featuring 195.5729 for elements and 119.6500 for artistic impression to a difficulty of 53.050.
It was Japan’s second medal in Doha having also claimed Mixed Team Technical bronze.
“While we were waiting for the score, my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest,” said Japan’s Megumu Yoshida. “I believe we can still raise the difficulty level."
“For this Championship, I aimed to deliver a high-quality performance even with a low difficulty level. I think if we increase the difficulty level and perform well, we can enhance our performance even further. It's not typical of Japan to focus solely on the level of difficulty and neglect the artistic aspect."
“Our team aspires to move people's hearts with our performances, rather than simply executing difficult routines.”
USA Make Splash With Memorable Routine
The USA backed up their bronze medal-winning display in the Mixed Team Acrobatic Routine by rounding off the podium in the Mixed Team Free.
They pulled off an incredible interpretation of their “Water” theme with amazing patterns and synchronization.
Their beautiful choreography resulted in them scoring 189.2521 for elements and 115.6500 for artistic impression for a total of 304.9021 to a difficulty of 56.100.
“I can’t stop crying, I'm so happy,” said USA’s Anita Alvarez. “It's been a long time coming with this team."
Spain declared the highest degree of difficulty at 56.700 as they placed fourth with 302.8228, while Italy came fifth with 282.4312.