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London – Hot favourites Russia won synchronised swimming team gold on Friday to maintain their total domination of the sport stretching back to the Sydney Games in 2000.
The Russians, with a total score of 197.030, were completing their fourth consecutive Games clean sweep after lifting the duet title on Tuesday.
China, third in the duet, took second, with Spain the bronze medal.
Russia's triumphant team comprised Anastasia Davydova, winning her fifth Olympic gold, Maria Gromova, Natalia Ishchenko, Elvira Khasyanova, Daria Korobova, Alexandra Patskevich, Svetlina Romashina and Anzhelika Timanina.
They were in pole for this latest title after going into the freestyle programme leading after Thursday's technical routine, and made sure of gold scoring 98.930 to add to Thursday's 98.100.
Despite another polished performance, the Chinese, lying second overnight, were not able to dislodge their Russian rivals from the top of the podium, coming in with a score of 194.010.
Spain, silver medallists in Beijing four years ago, ended with a score of 193.120.
The last time Russia failed to win the gold at a major championship was at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games when they finished fourth to the United States, not represented in this final.
Friday's free routine placed the emphasis on artistic impression, with Davydova and company seducing the capacity crowd at the Aquatics Centre and more importantly the 14 judges sitting poolside.
The Russians celebrated by giving their civvie-clothed coaches an impromptu ducking.
For Ishchenko and Romashina this was the second time they had had a gold medal hung around their necks after claiming the duets title 72 hours earlier.
Davydova, Gromova and Khasyanova meanwhile were celebrating becoming the first synchronised swimmers to win three team golds.
Canada took fourth with fifth-placed Japan failing to achieve a medal in synchronised swimming for the first time since the sport was introduced in 1984.
Japan's coach, Mayumi Uchida, reflected: “We have trained with an aim at 95 points. We are still far from there, but we have improved since the world championships and the qualifier.”
Great Britain came in sixth of the eight finalists on their first appearance in the team event.
“On the whole, I think it has gone incredibly well. We have definitely put synchro out there, and on the map.” said British team member Jennifer Knobbs. – AFP