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Final Press Release AIDA Team WC - 2008
Press Release 2008-09-11
Ref: AIDA President Bill Stromberg
Phone: +39 347 6742088
Sharm el Sheikh, Thursday 11th September 2008: -- It's rare that a freediving competition remains so close until the very last dive, but today, at the final dynamics competition of the 6th AIDA Team Freediving World Championships in Sharm, Martin Stepanek, and Christian Maldame went head to head as the last divers of the competition, with one point separating the Czech Republic and France from the Gold medal. It was also the most contested competition we've seen, with not only plenty of contraversial calls by the judges, some overturned to many peoples' amazement, but also with athletes protesting each other's white cards in a bid to get ahead. One thing is clear; the spirit of competition and the will to win were the main players in this year's World Championships.
So, with Constant Weight and Static safely tucked away, the Dynamics competition was where the Championships would be won or lost. Day one saw a spectacular World Record by Dave Mullins of 248m, from which he surfaced very relaxed and clean. Surely much more to come from the gentle giant. Weine Gustavson had another great day with a PB of 198m, equal to Denmark's Henning Larsen. Nathalia Molchanova performed a safe and effortless 174m and Morgan Bourchis put the French in excellent stead for the day ahead with a beautiful 194m.
Red cards were also plentiful with black-outs from Alexey Molchanov and Mandy Rae Cruickshank, and a narrowly missed surface protocol from Will Trubridge on his first attempt at 200m - in his own words "it's 200m or black-out!". Megumi Matsumoto of Japan, who were lying third after the Static competition, was unfortunately DQed on her start, putting her team in fifth and potentially ruining their chances of a medal. Sanne Rasmussen also had her first full black-out, pushing her team from fourth to eighth.
Day two was the most thrilling and tense freediving event there has been for a long time. The Swedish men were holding first place at the start of the day with 636.4 points, France second with 583.2, and the Czechs third with 574.8. Fourth and fifth were the Finns and Danes. The women's competition was pretty much a done deal; the Russian women had a relaxed easy day as, with only Nathalia having dived on day one, they were still ahead in first place with 497.4 and a margin of almost 20 points between them and the Czech women, all of whom had dived on day one, with no more points to win! Nathalie Avseenko and Olga Suryakova simply had to come up clean for them to win. Battling it out for second and third place therefore were the Swedes with 459.7, Americans with 432.5 and Japanese with 363.2, despite Megumi's DQ the day before. So maybe the women's comp wasn't so dull after all....
Disappointments of the day, surely go to the Italians, who were looking clean and comfortable albeit around 13th place, after Ilaria Molinari surfaced easily at 102m only to dip her airways to refresh herself - just two seconds before receiving the white card! Likewise Rob King forgot to remove his noseclip, an easy and common mistake, DQing himself. Ant Williams followed teammate Will's approach of going for broke with a dive of 210m and black-out, although he has done 225m in training so this seems a very unfortunate final blow to the once-favourite team on their final performance - they came in 12th overall, but hey, a World Record and National Record aren't bad to take home either! The two unluckiest men though, must be Johan Dalstrom, diving last for the Swedes for what should have been bronze, but he blacked out at 144m, putting them out of the race; and the Greeks, once favourites after NZ, had a DQ on surface protocol as Dimitrios dipped his airways hanging on the line, unable to remove his mask.
On a more positive note, the Russian women finished with poetry - Nathalie and Olga diving side by side, in perfect synchrony to come up simultaneously just one metre apart - to be met by a huge congratulations from divers and spectators alike. Top performer of the day was Greek, Manolis Giankos with 203m, and close behind him Finn, Mikko Pontinen with a National Record at 202m, and lovely Dane, Jesper Stechmann with 198m. Top female was Swiss Claudia Rollero, for whom the promise of a Snickers and a coffee after her dive, was all she needed to do a nice 154m - she was seen later in lunch protectively hugging her VERY LARGE Starbucks mug! Misuzu Hirai gave a strong performance for Japan, bringing in the surprise result of the day, to put Japanese back on the podium with bronze in the final results. The German women, lying in last place at the beginning of the comp, had performed steadily in the pool and were fourth in the Dynamics section, and result that enabled them to clamber into ninth overall, ahead of the Swiss, with just two divers, and the Brits, who suffered an unfortunate triple red from Liv Philip - it just wasn't her competition, but we're sure she'll be back stronger next time, and with a monofin that isn't held together with a plastic ruler and some sticky tape!
So, to sum up, it's 'Vive la France' for the men, and something similar in Russian for the women! Having seen how the French partied at last year's Individual's Closing Ceremony without a medal between them, it is with curiosity, amusement and a good deal of trepidation that we wait to see how on earth they're going to celebrate this year's spectacular result. For Guillaume and the rest of the team, for sure 2008 has been the Year of the Frog!
FINAL RESULTS, Top Ten: