The Week That Was: 2016 Rio Olympics Come To A Close

Photo Courtesy: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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While the in-pool competition ended last week, the second week of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games still brought plenty of action across diving, water polo, and open water events, not to mention a fair bit of controversy away from the pool. Get up to speed on all of the events from this past week by reading below, and for all of the aquatics stories from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games just head over to our Event Landing Page.

The Week That Was #5 – Russia Claims Fifth Straight Team Synchro Gold

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Photo Courtesy: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Russian synchronized swimming team captured the country’s fifth consecutive team gold this week. Their “Angels” free routine scored 99.1333 points on Friday to bring their total score to 196.1439 following their technical routine on Thursday. While the Chinese team scored an impressive 97.3667 on their “Finding Dragon” free routine, they were still three points behind the Russians in their total score. The Chinese finished with 192.9841 to claim their second straight silver medal. In third were the Japanese, who scored a 95.433 in the free routine to bring their total score to 189.2056. You can watch full videos from NBC here. Earlier in the meet, the Russian duo of Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina defended their gold medal from 2012 with a near perfect routine. Similar to the finish in the team event, the duos from China and Japan grabbed silver and bronze.

The Week That Was #4 – Van Rouwendaal, Weertman Capture 10K Gold

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Photo Courtesy: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports

The Netherlands’ Sharon van Rouwendaal captured the gold medal in the women’s 10K open water event, outpacing the field by an incredible 16.6 seconds that has so far been unprecedented in Olympic competition. Van Rouwendaal finished the race in 1:56:32.1 over Italy’s Rachele Bruni (1:56:49.5) and Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto (1:56:51.4). That bronze was Brazil’s first swimming medal at these Games. Van Rouwendaal also competed in pool events last week, but did not make any finals. Van Rouwendaal’s gold was the Netherlands first swimming medal at these Games, and makes five straight Olympics taking away a gold medal in swimming. Fellow Netherlands swimmer Ferry Weertman also captured gold in the 10K event to make it a Dutch sweep of the event, albeit in a much closer race. With about 100 meters to go, Greek swimmer Spiros Gianniotis began to pull away from the pack with Weertman in hot pursuit. Both swimmers charged to the finish and touched in matching times of 1:52:59.8. Weertman ended up being announced the winner by less than a tenth of a second. The bronze went to France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier, who also finished less than a tenth of a second ahead of China’s Lu Zijun.

The Week That Was #3 – China Claims Seven Diving Golds To Finish Meet

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Photo Courtesy: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

The diving competition in Rio came to a close with the men’s 10 meter platform event. China’s Chen Aisen, an Olympic rookie, grabbed his second gold medal of the meet, winning over Mexico’s German Sanchez and defending gold medalist David Boudia from the United States. Aisen’s previous gold medal came in synchronized platform earlier in the Games with partner Lin Yue. That gave China their seventh diving gold medal this Olympics; the only event they did not earn gold in was the synchronized springboard, where they earned a bronze medal. Tom Daley, the 2012 bronze medalist in the event, failed to make it through semi-finals after leading through the preliminaries. In the women’s platform event, China’s Ren Qian grabbed gold in her first Olympic appearance. She was joined on the podium by her teammate, Si Yajie, who won silver and Meaghan Benfeito of Canada who took the bronze. The men’s 3 meter springboard may have been the most unpredictable event of the entire meet, with the reigning Olympic medalist Ilia Sakharov locked out of the finals after failing a dive in semis and China’s He Chao, one of the favorites for a medal, finishing 21st out of prelims. China’s Cao Yuan ended up winning the gold medal to grab China’s fifth diving medal of the Games.
The Week That Was
The Week That Was #2 – Four U.S. Swimmers Create Havoc Outside Of Pool In Rio

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Photo Courtesy: SwimmingWorld.TV

While the U.S. swim team will be well-regarded for their dominant performances in the pool at the 2016 Rio Olympics, after this week their action outside of their pool have come under rightful scrutiny. While it was originally reported that four U.S. swimmers (Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jimmy Feigen, and Jack Conger) were robbed at gunpoint coming back to the athlete’s village following a party, throughout the week it became apparent that the swimmers’ initial story was a lie. Instead of being pulled over and robbed, as was initially reported, in reality the group vandalized a gas station bathroom and were confronted by security guards. Ryan Lochte admitted as such soon after being questions by multiple media outlets and after Brazilian officials demanded he and Jimmy Feigen turn over their passports and ordered them to stay in Brazil (Lochte had already left Rio). Feigen, for his part, was ordered to pay close to $50,000 in charitable donations while Lochte’s punishment from the Brazilian government remains to be seen. Conger and Bentz were also pulled off their plane heading back to the United States, although neither was charged with lying to the police as neither delivered false statements. All athletes have issued statements apologizing for the incident, including Lochte. The USOC and USA Swimming both issued statements about the event, while the IOC has set up a disciplinary commission to investigate the event.

The Week That Was #1 – U.S. Women Repeat, Serbian Men Win First Water Polo Gold

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Following championship performances at the European and World Championships, the men’s team from Serbia took home the biggest prize of all: Olympic gold. Serbia defeated defending Olympic champion Croatia 11-7 to take the gold medal. That is the country’s first gold medal for what is one of the most popular sport in the country. The Serbian team has finished third in the past two Olympic Games, while they made it to the Olympic final in 2004 only to come out with the silver medal. In the bronze medal match, Italy beat Montenegro 12-10 to earn third and leave Montenegro with their third consecutive fourth place finish. Meanwhile, the United States women continued setting up what may be viewed as a water polo dynasty, absolutely dominating the Olympic competition to defend their 2012 Olympic title 12-5 over Italy. The U.S. women were only down for a collective 44 seconds throughout their entire Olympic competition, highlighting the absolute dominance of this squad. This makes the U.S. women owners of the past two Olympic gold medals, and the latest World Championship, World Cup, and World League Super Final titles.Their gold medal also made the United States the first women’s team to win back-to-back gold medals in the history. For all of the aquatics stories from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, head over to our Event Landing Page.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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