Fri, September 20, 2013

Canada narrowly misses podium in team synchronized swimming

By LOUIS BUTCHER, QMI Agency


Canada's team performs in the synchronized swimming competition during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 10, 2012. (REUTERS)


LONDON - Canada kept the promise it made to wow the world of synchronized swimming, to shake its foundations, yet all its efforts to reach the podium were for naught, once again.

Despite a uniquely intense free routine, the eight Canadian swimmers stayed in fourth place, Friday, after receiving the audience's warmest ovation.

Their repeated and spectacular moves, with daring pirouettes outside of the water, did not convince the judges to give them scores high enough to win this bronze medal they wanted so much.

We have to admit it was a tall order for the Canadians, after Friday's result. They had to catch up to Spain (ranked third after the technical routine), who led by 1.8 points.

Russia's fourth Olympic title in a row (197.030 points) was never threatened, but China's silver medal (194.010), according to several observers, was not deserved.

Their dull performance allowed them to finish second on Friday, before the decidedly livelier Spanish (193.120).

As in Beijing, four years ago, the same three nations stood on the podium (China and Spain switched places) and the dejected Canadians could only look on.

"I told the girls, when they got out of the pool, that had I been a judge, I would have given them 10 out of 10. Their jumps were perfect, I could not believe my eyes," said Canadian coach Julie Sauvé.

But the real judges were much more severe and the Canadian head coach still does not understand.

"We had a program both unique and way more creative than all the others," she continued. "But the judges are not yet ready to give originality points."

"We want to make our sport go forward, but the judges have to get on board ... Synchronized swimming has to change in order to remain relevant. You know, our opponents are not the other countries, but rather the judges."

"In the end, we notice they lack transparency. Among other problems, I do not know how the Chinese judge evaluated my girls."

Evidently, the new scoring system is really difficult to understand. Each of the 14 judges has to give three scores for each routine.

"It's confusing, you don't know if you're right..." says Sauvé.

The eight girls seemed calm and hid their disappointment in the interview area, after their magnificent performance.

The team's co-captains, who also missed out on the podium in the duet event a few days ago, did not vary from their usual speech, despite their frustration.

"We deserved a medal, and we also wanted to perform on a very high level, which we did," said Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon, who confirmed that these would be her last Games.

"Another four-year cycle would be too long, I think. If the girls can win in Rio, I will be the first to go congratulate them.

"We took risks, huge risks, but we accomplished our mission," she added. "We have high hopes for the upcoming years."

Her teammate Elise Marcotte could not believe how much the crowd loved them.

"We did not manage to seduce the judges, but the crowd loved it. We risked everything and we accomplished our mission. That was not enough for the medal, but we have no regrets."

Jo-Annie Fortin, Chloé Isaac, Stéphanie Leclair, Tracy Little, Stéphanie Durocher and Valérie Welsh were also part of the Canadian team for the free routine.