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Russian synchronised swimmers sparkle on day one

Day 1 SS
Synchronised Swimming Duets Free Routine qualification. Getty Images
Pre-tournament favourites score highly in duets and teams, with Ukraine and Spain close behind

Russian pair Valeriya Filenkova and Daria Kulagina's costumes sparkled as much as their performance to the Van Helsing soundtrack in the duet free routine preliminary round at the Baku Aquatics Centre this morning (Friday 12 June). They lead the competition – the first of Baku 2015 – with a score of 89.2333, ahead of Ukraine and Spain. 

Austrian sisters Anna-Maria Alexandri and Eirini-Marina Alexandri finished a creditable fourth, achieving a high score of 83.8333 to music from Swan Lake.

It was a history-making day for Belarus and host nation Azerbaijan, meanwhile, with Hanna Shulhina and Dominika Tsyplakova becoming the first competitors in the inaugural European Games.

"I had a dream that there was a problem with my make-up and that it was messed up before the competition," revealed Belarusian Tsyplakova, who had previously dreamed she would be the first athlete to compete. "When I got to the competition, there was a mess with my lipstick."

Azerbaijan's Tatyana Nikitina and Yekaterina Valiulina entered the stage to a tremendous reception from the home crowd and scored 71.4333.

"It was a big responsibility and it was hard to handle," said Valiulina of being the first Azerbaijani competitors at the Games. "But the crowd in the stands helped us get through the emotion of the moment."

Russian dominance continued in the afternoon session with a stunning performance in the teams free routine preliminary round enabling them to keep Ukraine at bay.

The Russians opted for speed in the highlights compared to some the slower aspects of Ukraine's lifts, but still managed to maintain the height, strength and control favoured by the judges.

They finished on 89.9333 points compared with Ukraine's 87.3000, with Spain in third on 86.1333.

Spain will be looking to improve in the figure competition and free teams final, as Berta Ferreras Sanz said: "Being realistic, I think Russia have a better level than us at the moment. The real competition for us is Ukraine for the silver medal."


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