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USA Synchro

Aug 24 Russian wins synchro team event

Aug. 24, 2008, 9:49 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) - Russia completed its third-consecutive gold-medal sweep in synchronized swimming Saturday, winning a team event marked by a Japanese competitor passing out on the pool deck.

Russia finished with a combined 99.500 points after the free routine. Spain took the silver with 98.251 points and China claimed the bronze with 97.334.

Anastasia Ermakova and Anastasia Davydova, who already won gold in the duet earlier in the week, were also part of Russia's eight-woman squad for the team event.

After Japan's number concluded, two men in swimsuits jumped into the pool to assist Hiromi Kobayashi to the side of the pool. The other team members climbed out to await their scores, while Kobayashi clung to the pool's edge.

Kobayashi was lifted out by the two men in swimsuits and she buckled to her knees. Her body and head went limp as they carried her. She was wrapped in a white sheet and rushed away on a stretcher, attended to by several volunteers and medical personnel.

Japan team officials said Kobayashi made a complete recovery.

"What happened to her was too much breathing, apparently," said team spokesman Hiroshi Takeuchi. "This kind of thing has happened before. She is a very nervous athlete. She is back to consciousness. She is sitting up on the bed."

Japan received a two-point penalty for touching the bottom of the pool and finished in a tie for fifth with the United States, with 95.334 points each. Canada was fourth with 95.668 points.

It's the first time Japan hasn't won a medal since the team event began in 1996.

Spain began its routine while Kobayashi was still being attended to on the pool deck, and the crowd remained restless as Russia dove in for the final routine.

But the Russians, led by Ermakova and Davydova, appeared unaffected by the hubbub, earning a perfect score of 50.000 to go with their 49.500 from Thursday's technical routine.

Russia entered the synchro program in a shroud of secrecy, not having competed since last year's World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. Their new routines were created behind closed doors, but the results were the same.

Performing to "Life of Sea" by Aliveiro, Russia began its routine with a high flip and performed its throws and kicks in complete unison, receiving eight perfect 10s.

Besides Ermakova and Davydova, the other members of Russia's team are: Maria Gromova, Natalia Ishchenko, Elvira Khasyanova, Olga Kuzhela, Elena Ovchinnikova and Svetlana Romashina.

Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes won Spain's first Olympic synchro medal when they claimed silver in the duet, and led the biggest potential challenge to Russia's dominance.

The Spaniards went with an African theme, borrowing drum beats from the continent and putting beaded accessories in their hair.

China got its first medal in the sport after identical twins Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen finished fourth in the duet.

The hosts started off with two swimmers diving in with back flips and earned a loud applause for an original body surfing segment, with one swimmer balancing herself on the other seven. Then came a caterpillar move that also was appreciated by the crowd.

The Americans unfurled a banner that read "Thank you, China!" in both Chinese and English when the team was introduced before the event.

With a routine called "The Rebirth of Christ," the U.S. swimmers performed to a mix of eclectic music and displayed some novel moves, most notably a foot in the face gesture.

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