GLASGOW (Reuters) - Svetlana Kolesnichenko, the new standard bearer for artistic aquatics, added another European Championships gold to her huge collection of international medals when she took the synchronised swimming solo technical title on Monday.
In a Russian team that dominates the sport, the 24-year-old Kolesnichenko has become its most celebrated figure with one Olympic and 13 world titles to her name.
Yet it is only in the past year having taken up the solo events and won four titles at the 2017 world championships that the athlete from Gatchina, near St Petersburg, has really flourished.
Performing to Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Kolesnichenko was not quite at her very best but still dominated, her mark of 93.4816 putting her more than two points clear of Ukrainian silver medallist Yelyzaveta Yakhno (91.3517).
Italy’s Linda Cerruti (90.2282) took the bronze as Kolesnichenko celebrated her sixth European title, and the second in Glasgow following her victory in the duet technical with Varvara Subbotina.
“I will work harder in the next year to improve. I’m getting stronger,” said Kolesnichenko, who has the chance to collect another two golds on the final day of competition on Tuesday.
Kolesnichenko has certainly come a long way from the six-year-old girl who was taken to a synchronised swimming club because her mother thought she was too fat, only for the coach to originally refuse to take her on.
Russia underlined their dominance by later winning the gold in the technical team final, with Ukraine again having to settle for silver and Italy the bronze.
The winning performance, which earned an impressive total of 94.6000, was so good that it even caused a ripple of amazement within the Russian squad.
“Tatiana Pokrovskaia (the team coach) smiled — and that is amazing,” explained one member of the winning team, Mariia Shurochkina. “She told us we were amazing. It feels like a happy new year because one time in a year she says, ‘OK, that was very good.’”
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge