| Synchronised swimming solo event medallists (from left) Anastasia Ermakova (silver), Virginie Dedieu (gold) and Gemma Mengual (bronze) on Thursday. (AFP)
Barcelona: Virginie Dedieu gave France their first-ever gold in synchronised swimming here on Thursday when she dominated the solo event at the world swimming championships.
Two-time runner-up Dedieu earned eight maximum 10 marks out of a possible 10 to give her a final total of 99.251 points. Dedieu stole the show for her routine dedicated to the tragic life of French sculpturer Camille Claudel who took her own life.
The most stressful part of Emilie Heymans’ gold-medal performance came after the diving was done.
The Canadian won the 10-metre platform on Wednesday after the two favoured Chinese competitors came up short in their final dives.
Heymans, who won silver in 10-metre platform synchronised in the 2000 Olympics and gold in the 1999 Pan Am Games on the 10-metre platform, edged Lao Lishi and Li Na with a final dive that began with a somersault and ended with a twist.
Heymans went into the final in fifth place. Li and Lao were leading the competition.
Heymans’ gold was Canada’s first in the championships.
Russia top the medal table with four golds and seven overall. Russian distance swimmer Vladimir Diattchine won the 10km open-water swim, which came just 18 hours after countryman Alexander Dobroskok took gold in men’s 3-metre springboard diving.
Earlier in the week, Dobroskok was the gold medallist in 3-metre synchronised, teaming with Dimitry Sautin. Evgueni Kochkarov claimed gold in the 5km open swim. The Russian women’s waterpolo team is also unbeaten. The men, among the favourites in a wide open field, were edged by two-time defending champions Spain 10-8.
Out in Barcelona’s harbour, Diattchine won in one hour, 50 minutes, 58.8 seconds and was 7.7 seconds faster than silver-medallist Christian Hein of Germany, who had also finished second in the 5km race on Sunday.
Local favourite David Meca took bronze, ten seconds behind the winner. Italy, Canada and Japan also won gold medals on Wednesday. Italy picked up their second gold, with Viola Valli cashing in again. Valli won the women’s 10km in 1:59:49.9, 1.2 seconds faster than silver-medallist Angela Mauer of Germany.
Valli’s victory on Wednesday was her fifth gold medal in major events, including the open water world championships, which take place in the years when there is no world swimming championships. Open water swimming is not an Olympic sport.
Japan picked up their first gold medal of the championships in the free-combined programme in synchronised swimming. The US and Spain shared the silver medal.