Russia’s absence boosts U.S. hopes of striking Olympic gold in artistic swimming

By Vincent Daheron

Russia’s absence boosts U.S. hopes of striking Olympic gold in artistic swimming

EAUBONNE, France April 28 – Boosted by the absence of favourites Russia, the United States will aim for the gold medal in artistic swimming at the Paris Games after qualifying for the Olympic team event for the first time since 2008.

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The Americans punched their ticket to the Games following the world championships in Doha in February, at which they won two bronze medals.

“It means so much for me, for the whole team and the rest of USA artistic swimming community as well. For those teams who came before us, for the people who fought but didn’t qualify,” Anita Alvarez told Reuters on Sunday after taking part in a training session open to the public in the Paris suburb of Eaubonne, where the U.S. delegation will be based during the Games.

“This first qualification since 2008 shows that we are getting stronger, we are getting better,” said Bill May, a 45-year-old swimmer who could take part in the first Games open to men in this discipline.

“It’s showing the world that we are back.”

Spain’s Andrea Fuentes, who won four Olympic medals in synchronised swimming, took over as Team USA’s head coach in 2018.

“This qualification, that was my mission. But now, in America, they are like ‘Dream big’ and they are like ‘Ok, next step Olympic medal,” she told Reuters.

Since the team event first appeared at the Olympic Games in 1996, the United States have won two medals gold in Atlanta in 1996 and bronze in Athens in 2004.

The opportunity is all the greater given that Russia, winner of all the gold medals at the Olympics, in duet or teams, since 2000, will be excluded from Paris 2024.

Russian athletes are allowed to take part in individual events under a neutral banner on condition that they have not supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or are not under contract to the Russian army. They are barred from team events.

“It’s an opportunity, of course, for all of us. Not only the America, for the whole world,” Alvarez said.

“It’s too bad that you can see some of your friends not be able to compete but I think it’s an opportunity for everyone in the world,” May said.

The U.S. team will take part in the second round of the World Cup from May 3 to May 5, organised at the new Olympic Aquatics Centre in Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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