Russia’s Maltsev and Valitova finally won their gold medal in mixed duet

Kazan 2015 - SY

Aleksandr Maltsev and Darina Valitova (RUS) celebrated victory in mixed duet free routine at the FINA World Championships in Kazan.

They missed gold in technical duet two days ago, losing to the first world champions in history Bill May and Christina Jones (USA) some miserable 0,22 points. Russians were very upset, because they counted on tech duo more than on free programme. Technique – is their strong point. But they managed to focus on their performance tonight.

Russians and Americans were again the main rivals. That was a battle of two famous ballet themes, which were chosen to find favour in the eyes of Russian spectators - “Fire bird” by Bill May and Kristina Lum-Underwood and “Swan Lake” by Aleksandr Maltsev and Darina Valitova. And once again the advantage of the winners over the runner-ups was not overwhelming. Maltsev and Valitova captured gold (91,7333) with a small margin of 0,2666 points. May and Lum, who was supported by her whole family (parents, husband, 2,5 year old son and 6 month daughter), took the silver medal (91,4667).

The bronze medal for Italians Giorgio Minisini and Mariangela Perrupato (89,3333) was worth gold. They couldn’t suppress their emotions, watching the points on the screen. To beat Virginie Dedieu (FRA, 4th place) and Gemma Mengual (ESP, 5th place) is an unbelievable result for the mixed duet from Italy.

Gold medallist Aleksandr Maltsev (RUS) commented on winning gold in the free routine (91.7333 points):

"We couldn't believe it! Our happiness was so big words cannot express it! It was psychologically hard for us after the second place in the technical routine. But so many people supported us! And we did it!

I started to swim when I was 7 in St- Petersburg because my parents wanted me to know how to swim. That’s pretty much when I realise that this sport was for me. I pursued my dream to one day be in the World Championships. There were a lot of negative opinions about the mixed duets not only in Russia but a lot of people also supported me and told me that If I did it the right way I could be the best and succeed. I truly believe that we should revise the rules not to match the women’s ones. How many synchronisation moves should be included should be included for example. A revision of the rules is necessary.”

Gold medallist Darina Valitova (RUS) “We are of course so delighted with tonight’s results, it’s unbelievable. Our programme was based on a ballet –Swam Lake– the character moved from evil to good and vice versa.”

Silver medallist Bill May (USA): “We and our coaches are happy about our swim. I don't think we could ever be disappointed. It's the first time we are at the World Championship. Even the opportunity to be here is a great accomplishment for us and it's a sport. But when you go out there, there is nothing you can do about it, you enjoy your swim and it's all up to the judges, so one day they will like something better than the other, and the other day it will be vice versa. It's a subjective sport.” 

Bill May and Kristina Lum Underwood in the Mixed Duet Freestyle Finals - Photo credit: Giorgio Perottino/Deepbluemedia

(About the mixed duet rules) “As the event grows, the more guidelines requirements will be put in place. Judges will want to see the real connection between a man and a woman otherwise they could stay with two beautiful women.  We really need to adjust the rules for a mixed pair.”

Silver medallist Kristina Ium-Underwood (USA): “Since it's a brand-new event, there is nothing said as to what is more difficult. We are constantly connected the whole entire time. And maybe others are swimming like two girls”.

Bronze medallist Giorgio Minisini (ITA): “We are very happy! We can't believe it's real. We could never imagine that we would do better than Virginie Dedieu and Gemma Mengual. So, tonight is a great night.”

I really like Kazan and Russia, the city, the venues. We had some time to visit a bit and we loved it. I will have good memories about this place when I go back to Italy.