Golden legs of Russia and Maltsev’s two gilded limbs

Kazan is first to see synchronised swimmers’ Olympic programmes

Golden legs of Russia and Maltsev’s two gilded limbs Photo: dspkazan.com

The FINA Artistic Swimming World Series and the Russian Artistic Swimming Championships ended on 21 April. Russian athletes proved again they had no equals, the competitions’ organisers were thrilled with guests’ amazement and announced the opening of the first school named after Tatiana Pokrovskaya. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Artistic swimming

Two years ago synchronised swimming was renamed artistic, this is why don’t surprise that this is how we will call this sport, but its participants will anyway be called synchronised swimmers. They can’t be artists. We will admit that renaming the sport made more mess than clarity. Yes, there was an issue earlier, why synchronised swimming had such an event as solo, but even Moscow athlete Elvira Khasyanova who competed for Tatarstan explained it by saying that there was synchronisation between music and an athlete’s actions.

Synchronised swimmers gathered in Kazan soon after Ninel Kozhedub, the ex-head coach of the team Tatarstan, celebrated her 80th anniversary and Aleksandr Maltsev’s 70th jubilee, which was on the eve. It’s a complete namesake of the main male synchronised swimmer of all Russia who won the first medals in mixed duet at the World Championships in Kazan in 2015. And now synchronised swimmer Aleksandr Maltsev is reasonably aspiring for Olympic gold, as the IOC is more inclined to change the women’s duet to the mixed one on the Olympic programme. Anyway, Aleksey Vlasenko, the president of three aquatic federations including artistic swimming, told Realnoe Vremya about it.

Now synchronised swimmer Aleksandr Maltsev is reasonably aspiring for Olympic gold, as the IOC is more inclined to change the women’s duet to the mixed one on the Olympic programme. Photo: dspkazan.com

‘‘Now we are being approached to such a tendency to substitute the women’s duet for the mixed one. Yes, after debuting at the 2015 WC in Kazan, the mixed duets have been still developing, and the number of participating countries is much lower there than in traditional synchronised swimming events. But, according to IOC officials, sales of the TV signal almost doubled after introducing the mixed duet, the number of countries who began watching artistic swimming or, more precisely, mixed duets, is over the top. This is why IOC officials start thinking about substituting the women’s duets for the mixed. I hope this will happen as late as possible. I talked with coach Gana Maksimova who is responsible for developing mixed duets, and she said the mixed duet was developing at a high pace. They aren’t those novices who became first 4 years ago who won the world championships’ medals. The progress is obvious. Spain, Italy, China enthusiastically took on the development of this event hoping to become a leader, which is impossible in traditional events. And it seems to me that a debut of the mixed duet at the 2024 Olympics is prepared this way.’’

Now Vlasenko’s words clearly make a hint to boys: become synchronised swimmers. Competition is low (now), while an Olympic gold is as important as it’s in any other sport. At the same time, you will take your ‘‘revenge’’ of fine sex representatives who gradually entered traditionally men’s box, wrestling and weightlifting…

Romashina: all goes according to plan

A comeback was the main sports event for Tatarstan fans, and given the renamed sport, the debut of our star Svetlana Romashina in artistic swimming. She shared her plans with the author of these lines as early as last year: ‘‘If everything is fine, I see the world championships as the first competition to returning to sport,’’ she said, “Previously, I planned to begin at the World Series, but the 2019 WC in Korean Gwangju would be the major tournament for me. I suppose it would be a duet with Svetlana Kolesnichenko, who, according to her, is waiting for me back. I hope very much that our coach Pokrovskaya thinks the same, that she will want to see me both in the duet and in the group, as the second one will be a bit complicated at first. And at the Olympics, I will have to be as a leader of the team Russia both in the duet and in the group events. I must do it, if not, why plan the comeback to the sport. But it’s much harder to join the group now, as, according to Olympic rules, substitutes in groups were cancelled.’’

A comeback was the main sports event for Tatarstan fans, and given the renamed sport, the debut of our star Svetlana Romashina in artistic swimming. Photo: dspkazan.com

There is a feeling that Romashina has a time machine thanks to which she glanced at the future a year ago and now did what she planned. And Kolesnichenko waited for her as a cake from the oven, gold medals from the first competition World Series also waited for her – two of them at once moved from the competitions’ organisers’ hands to numerous collections of Romashina and Kolesnichenko after the technical and free routine in duet.

Romashina is now studying at the Volga sports academy. And after graduation, which coincides with the end of her sports career, she is due to chair the team Tatarstan. It’s good that Kozhedub’s example is in front of her eyes who worked in this post until almost 80 years.

Tatiana Pokrovskaya’s school

After one of the victories, Romashina gave an interview to representatives of a western TV company that Vlasenko had approved: ‘‘Sveta, your English is very good. ‘‘When you need to think, the head doesn’t work,’’ Romashina coquetted. ‘‘Your head does work, good job,’’ Albert Bagautdinov, the director of the Aquatics Palace where the synchronised swimming school works, evaluated. During the competition, it was announced the creation of another school in the Olympic reserve college, and the school will be named after legendary coach Tatiana Pokrovskaya. Considering that the college is located not far from the well-known Red Gates, the school could be named Pokrovskaya Gates. But it’s a joke, of course. Moreover, not the name but features of the school matters, both local specialists and coached instructed by Mrs Pokrovskaya will work there.

By the way, thanks to the Americans for making up such beautiful and medal-rich sport for Russians. A lot was invented overseas in general, which is the beauty and pride of Russian sport. Yankees and Canadians won medals in American free wrestling, Canadian hockey, American synchronised swimming at the first FINA World Championships as early as 1974, while we were just considering to open specialised divisions in sports schools. And the “Pokrovskaya school” will have foundation, unlike 40 years ago in the USSR but in the republic where Liliya Nizamova won medals, Daria Islamova and Olesya Arkhipova grew up and Romashina will work.

“The FINA and LEN are ready to hold competitions here with pleasure,” we will cite Vlasenko again. ‘‘Because of our skill to host them well and with hospitality, let’s tell the truth.” Photo: dspkazan.com

“If Russia had such a buffet, I would have been shot dead next to it!”

Just 15 years ago Kazan not only didn’t develop this sport but wasn’t even able to host some insignificant synchronised swimming competition. This is the only sport the Tatarstan capital refused as the host of the first Summer University Spartakiade of Russia in 2003. Competitions in 15 sports were held in Kazan, while synchronised swimmers competed in Naberezhnye Chelny. But 10 years later there was an unforgettable kick-off at the Kazan Universiade, and now people are rushing to Kazan (and Russia) “irresistibly”.

“The FINA and LEN are ready to hold competitions here with pleasure,” we will cite Vlasenko again. ‘‘Because of our skill to host them well and with hospitality, let’s tell the truth. The way such competitions are held abroad is just a pathetic excuse for our hospitality, which is off the charts. I went to the World Cup in London, entered the buffet and was shocked. I say that if Russia had such a buffet, I would have been shot dead next to it! A sandwich with some strange cheese, Coca-Cola, that’s is. They economise on everything. This is why foreigners like to come to Russia…’’

A speech of FINA Technical Delegate and FINA Technical Artistic Swimming Lisa Schott from Canada at the press conference confirmed these words.

She thanked us on behalf of the FINA for what we had prepared for them in Kazan. The Russian Synchronised Swimming Federation is the best both in terms of the number of titles and the level of competitions. So she was glad that Canadian synchronised swimmers saw the strongest Russian synchronised swimmers many years ago. In the end, Lisa Schott thanked Russian coaches for promoting this sport, which is becoming better and better due to them.

But probably not only the hospitality can explain the Canadian’s emotions who found cockroaches in one of the previous synchronised swimming competitions calmly living in the swimming pool. This happened in a competition in one of the middle Asian countries – a former Union republic. But cockroaches simply ruined the aesthetic perception, but the criminal, which lived in the same hotel where the athletes, coaches and technical staff were also accommodated, seriously scared. In this respect, Kazan looked very safe, what two synchronised swimmers standing on the sidelines of the Aquatics Palace waiting for a taxi would make sure again. In a different situation, they could be considered as girls of loose morals, as they had a heavy make-up on, which they had put on before the competition. But the beauties were scared of nothing in Kazan.

By Dzhaudat Abdullin
Tatarstan

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