Host City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Venue(s): Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro
Date Started: August 14, 2016
Date Finished: August 16, 2016
Format: Top 12 duos from qualifying advanced to final free routine.
Russia were clear favourites to win the gold medal, particularly as it was back to 1996 since another country, the United States, won the duets title. The entire Russian team was outstanding at the 2015 World Championships, winning eight of the nine gold medals, with [Nataliya Ishchenko] and [Svetlana Romashina] winning seven golds between them. The pair had been dominant in the event since the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, winning six Olympic and a massive 60 World and European gold medals between them. Chinaâs [Huang Xuechen] and [Sun Wenyan] were runners-up to the Russian girls in the two duet events at the 2015 worlds and were probably the only pair to offer a serious challenge for the Rio gold medal.
True to form, the defending champions Ishchenko and Romashina set the pace with a near perfect performance in the free routine with three 9.9s in a combined score of 98.0667 and a clear two points ahead of Huang and Sun, with the Japanese pair of [Risako Mitsui] and [Yukiko Inui] in third and the Spanish pair of [Ona Carbonell] (bronze medallist at London 2012) and [Gemma Mengual] fourth. Mengual came out of retirement at the age of 39 to compete in Rio and try and win Spainâs only synchronised swimming medal, because they did not have a squad in the team event, despite winning the bronze medal at London in 2012. The Russians increased their lead after the second dayâs technical programme with their âGypsy Dancerâ routine which gave them 96.4577 and extended their lead from 2 to 3.0899 points ahead of the Chinese pair with Inui and Mitsui still third as the field was cut to the final 12.
Of the three front runners Ishchenko and Romashina were the first to perform the final free routine and their 98.533 gave them a final total of 194.9910. With five pairs still to go, their performance was already hailed as the gold-medal winning one. Huang and Sun held on to their silver, maintaining their bronze medal position a full 6.9363 behind the gold medal winners. The Ukrainian girls [Lolita Ananasova] and [Anna Voloshyna] overtook the Spaniards Carbonell and Mengual to finish fourth. It was the fifth consecutive gold for a Russian pair and, for Ishchenko and Romashina, it was their second gold as they joined Russians [Anastasiya Davydova] and [Anastasiya Yermakova] with two duet gold medals.