Hausding and Klein on Cloud 9
Russia made it 6 out of 6 in synchro so far. Again, no one could match the level of their performance, either with only one swimmer in the pool– as in the solo technical – or with 10, as in the free combination final. The Russian march continued in the diving pool, courtesy of Evgeny Kuznetsov while the day’s last title went to Germany as Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein edged out the Brits in the men’s 10m synchro by 0.96 points and wrote history by winning their 9th title in a row.
Svetlana Romashina won the first solo technical final ever held at the Europeans (previously the technical routine was part of the combined result of the respective events). With the compulsory elements in the focus, Romashina’s brilliance couldn’t shine that much. Still, she was the only one to receive points equal or above 9.0 from all judges. Just for comparison: bronze medallist Linda Cerruti of Italy had only three marks above 9, all the rest remained in the field of 8s. As expected, Anna Volosyhna brought another silver for Ukraine.
The same three nations took the medals in the free combination and in the same order. The Russian team offered another spectacular show, with plenty of beautiful and surprising moves, with no relaxation for any swimmer during the performance. Even a 9.9 flashed on the scoreboard while high 9s were flying all over the place, securing another gold for the Russians.
And one more arrived in the diving pool in the evening. Whenever a Russian wins the men’s 3m springboard it cannot be labelled a surprise (unless you do it at the Olympics and beat the Chinese, like Ilia Zakharov did four years ago in this venue) – though this time Evgeniy Kuznetsov’s victory was a bit unexpected after Jack Laugher had come up with a hell of a performance in the prelims. All but one of his dives was worth 80+ points, he finished atop by 61.85 points – so the scene seemed to be set for a British triumph in the evening.
For two rounds it went as expected, Laugher even got a 10 for his second dive, much to the joy of the crowd filling the stands at the diving pool. The blow came in the following round when the home hero missed his entry, got 4.5s, while Kuznetsov produced an average one for 6-7s, gaining 30 points on Laugher. In the meantime Ukraine’s Illya Kvasha – bronze medallist in Berlin 2014 – offered a balanced though not outstanding series of attempts, his best in the fourth (91.20) put him atop. However, next came Kuznetsov with a 89.25 pointer in the fifth while Kvasha couldn’t hold on, and Laugher was also off his best, after hitting 91.65 in the fourth, a modest fifth followed so the Russian took the lead.
And he saved his best to the last, a 100-point beauty, which secured his win as Kvasha and Laugher did their job in the last round but far from perfection. In fact it was Ilia Zakharov who got closest to that dimension: after an embarrassingly bad dive in the second round, when former European title-holder Patrick Hausding also wrote off his own chances, the Olympic champion almost achieved a miracle but the dive of the evening (for 102.60, with 9.0s and a 9.5 in the mix) was not enough for him to make the podium this time.
The home fans left the scene slightly disappointed at the end of the day as the second final of the evening also brought a silver for the Brits. Just as in the women’s 10m synchro event, the host duo led before the last round, but again an error prevented them from staying atop. In fact, all credit goes to the Germans, Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein, who completed an unparalleled success story by clinching their 9th title in succession, a feat which can hardly be matched in the future. Their winning margin was pretty tiny, 0.96 points, still it brought a well-deserved win for the two veterans who clinched their first gold in 2008 and have won each European ever since. The perfect 10 might not happen as a farewell is also in the cards – if it should come, we witnessed a great finish from two fantastic athletes.
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Press release from LEN, photos courtesy of Deepbluemedia