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Russian synchro duo set to dominate Beijing pool
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11:06, July 19, 2008

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Two 25-year-olds are leading Russia's pursuit for a third straight win in synchronized swimming competitions at the Beijing Olympics.

In Athens, duet gold winner Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova scissor-kicked their way through a lively routine to the music of Don Quixote, winning three 10s in technical merit and all five tens for artistic merit. Their stunning performance won them a near-perfect score of 99.334 points.

At the age of 25, the pair are about to make their second consecutive Olympic appearance in Beijing, and they are aiming to take home two more gold medals, in both team and duet.

"The Olympics is very exciting," Davydova said at an exhibition with the U.S. synchro team in Walnut Creek, California in June. "It only happens once every four years, so there is no margin for mistake."

Davydova started synchronized swimming when she was six years old after her parents took her to a nearby pool.

"We've been doing this since we were small. Our parents brought us down and showed us the event, we liked it and so we pursued it," she said.

The two Anastasias were both from Moscow and have paired up since 1998 in junior competitions. Duet swimmers sometimes have an age gap of more than 10 years and different heights, but the two Russian swimmers are of the same age, of similar heights and happen to share the same given name.

A decade of training and working together helped the girls achieve remarkable synchronization, which helped them to gain international recognition.

Before the Athens Games, the two faced domestic competition from Sydney Olympic champions Olga Brusnikina and Maria Kiseleva, and the younger two stood out. Brusnikina and Kiseleva also swam for Russia in Athens, but in the team event and not as a duet.

"The most difficult part of this tournament was not to beat the Japanese, but trying to decide which pair would represent Russia this time -- Kisseleva and Brusnikina or us," said Ermakova.

The Anastasias' performance kept the gold medal for Russia. "These Russian girls, wow, they are only getting better," said Canadian artistic impression judge Sandra Reberts in Athens.

The pair were absent at an April tournament in Beijing this year, but the Moscow natives are expected to be well received in their hometown as well as in the Games venue Water Cube.


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