When the margin of consensus is of 0.1 points (between 9.9 and 10) one can say that synchronised swimming programme is no longer subjective. When this situation arrives, it is obvious that something beyond the opinion of the judges happened in the pool. At the occasion of the duet final of these championships this honour was meant to the Russians Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova. No doubt that they were simply above the other competitors. It was Russia on one side and the rest of the world in the other.
Already first after the technical routine, and displaying a technically perfect programme, Davydova and Ermakova got the approval of the judges and were awarded three "10's" for the artistic impression and six more "9.9's". Finishing with a combined total of 99.084, it became obvious that the other routines couldn't have any chances to surpass the Russians. Second in Fukuoka two years ago, these two young ladies (both are 20 years old) had won the FINA World Cup in 2002 and are largely dominant at the European level.
In Japan, the "home factor" had worked in favour of Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda, naturally the strongest contenders of the two Anastasias. In Barcelona, the experienced swimmers were not so successful and their 9.8-9.9's programme reflects exactly what happened in the water: the Japanese were not up the Russian standard and couldn't better the place they got in the technical routine - second.
From here on, the rest of the presentations did not leave such an extraordinary impression in judges and spectators. Spain (Gemma Mengual and Paola Tirados) could not avoid some mistakes, but the combined notes with the technical preliminaries allowed them to conquer the bronze medal. Three medals for Spain in three finals, definitively an historical moment for this country in the discipline. Never the Spanish synchronised swimmers had a single medal at a world level competition and in Barcelona the intention of overcoming this situation has reached an unparalleled degree of success. Moreover, a new star was born: to Gemma Mengual entire pages of the local newspapers are devoted to her performances.
The ultimate question of the duet final was to know the level of the US team. Fighting directly with Spain for the third place on the podium, the Americans were clearly better (marks between 9.6 and 9.8) but the overall total in conjunction with the technical presentation was not enough to secure the bronze medal. Final note for the French duet Laure Thibaud/Virginie Dedieu: after committing some major errors, the judges severely punished the routine by giving them sixth place.
"To those who say our programme was maybe artistically poorer that the others, we simply answer them with the notes of the judges," considered Ermakova, silver medallist of the solo event. Mengual was also emphatic when asked about the predictions for the team event final. "Tired? No, our motivation is now so high that as we enter in the water we will be stronger than ever."