Historic British medal on final day of Champions Cup
22nd May 2011
Great Britain clinched an historic bronze medal to close the LEN European Synchronised Swimming Champions Cup at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.
The British team, powered by British Gas, finished third in the Team Combination event winning the country's first European medal since 1994 and their first in European Champions Cup history.
It's our best event so we really wanted to go for the medal here in front of a home crowd.
The 10-strong team scored 88.000 for their dolls-inspired routine and Commonwealth bronze medallist Lauren Smith insisted they knew the medal was within their reach.
“The score was really good for us and that is our best event and we wanted to really go for it.," said Smith.
"We got bronze at the German Open and we wanted to do it here in front of a home crowd. The crowd has been phenomenal again and we have just loved having that many people here.
“We have a hard highlight and we wanted to perfect it so we've worked on it lots today. It is a very individual lift and it stands out which is the aim.
“It has been so good competing here is Sheffield. The organisers have done such a fantastic job."
Ukraine scored 93.440 to win their first gold of the weekend with in the Team Combination and clinch the overall Champions Cup trophy in the process.
The Combination, which isn’t an Olympic discipline, is one of the most entertaining routines in the programme and allows the teams a free reign on their choreography with only two required elements.
They must have two parts of the routine must be performed by three or less swimmers.
Italy were in second place with 91.770 for their Da Vinci Code-inspired routine.
Italian swimmer Sara Sgarzi said: “We wanted to beat the Ukraine but we didn’t quite make it so we need to go back and train some more before the World Championships in Shanghai to improve our score.
“The LEN Synchronised Swimming Champions Cup has given us great experience and we know where we are compared to other teams which is really helpful looking ahead to Shanghai.”
Scoring a huge 98.750, Russia's Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina were technically excellent throughout their routine and added to the team free gold medal, they won last night.
Spanish pair, Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes, scored 96.340 to finish in silver medal position.
Fuentes said: “We felt that we had improved on our performance from the prelims on Friday. Our score was much better and we were closer to the Russian team.”
Carbonell added: “We will make some changes to our choreography for the World Championships but we will keep the music, style and swimsuits.”
Ukraine's Daria Iushko and Kseniya Sydorenko won bronze with 93.170 while Italy (90.920) were fourth ahead of the British duet Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison (89.570) in fifth.
Allison said: “That felt much better than the prelim swim. We went into the final focused on the little synchronisation errors and watching it back on the big screen as we got out I could see that we managed to correct them. We scored better than in the prelims too which is always a focus when you go into a competition.
“The crowd here is great. It has been really cool to get the support from everyone. We have all loved having more family members here supporting us and it was really special walking up to the platform.”
The British Synchronised Swimming team, powered by British Gas, are maintaining their momentum in the run up to the biggest event of their careers next year.
The Brits are currently having a resurgence and thanks to the investment from UK Sport, the team have moved up the rankings from 20th in the world to their current standing. With the establishment of the High Performance Centre in Aldershot and the appointment of Biz Price to National Performance Director, the team are definitely heading in the right direction ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“The weekend has gone very well for us,” Price said. “It was our first time competing in front of a home crowd at an international competition. We had a few surprises in training where we could tell that the girls were excited to be at home and their adrenalin was pumping.
“Overall the performances were good. The Technical Duet and Team were pleasing and we have seen improvements. In our sport it is critical to improve from the Prelims to the finals and I am happy we saw that.
“There is still a buzz around the British team and a lot of the judges are noticing our improvement from last year and at this point we are where we need to be.
“The venue looks great and all of the countries have commented how helpful the volunteers are and how well run the competition has been.”