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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

will males perform in Synchronised Swimming in Olympics ??

Gender equality in Sports … what ?

The 16th  FINA World Championships will be held in Kazan, Russia from 24 July to 9 August 2015. This is the first time that Russia will host this event. Competitions will be held in five kinds of sport (swimming, open water swimming, diving and high diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo) in three main competition venues.
At Olympics and elsewhere, for sure, you would have enjoyed ‘synchronised swimming’- in the earlier century, it was known as water ballet.  In 1907, Australian Annette Kellerman popularized the sport when she performed in a glass tank as an underwater ballerina (the first water ballet in a glass tank) in the New York Hippodrome.

Synchronized swimming is both an individual and team sport. Swimmers compete individually during figures, and then as a team during the routine. Figures are made up of a combination of skills and positions that often require control, strength, and flexibility. Swimmers are ranked individually for this part of the competition. The routine involves teamwork and synchronization. It is choreographed to music and often has a theme. Although solos are not used in the Olympics, athletes can perform solos and compete in most other competitions. A recent addition to the Olympic repertoire is the event of mixed pairs, allowing men to compete with a female duet partner.

Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. During lifts, (where up to six people act as the platform, one person acts as a base, and one and/or two people act as flyers) swimmers are required not to touch the bottom - yet pull off an outstanding lift.  Do you know that aside from the new mixed-pair event, Olympic and World Championship competition is not open to men, but other international and national competitions allow male competitors in every event. Synchronized swimming is governed internationally by FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation).  

Away, Malaysia’s hopes of winning the team gold in synchronised swimming at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games is vanishing rapidly.  Recent news is that Tasha Jane Taher Ali has called it quits – the second synchronised swimmer to do so this month. Two weeks ago, Katrina Ann Abdul Hadi surprisingly called time on her international career.The 20-year-old Tasha, a regular with the national side since 2011, tendered her resignation after helping Malaysia win two silvers in the team events – free combination and team technical – at last month’s Singapore SEA Games.The departures of Katrina and Tasha mean Zylane Lee and Gan Zhen Yu are the only two remaining members of the all-conquering side who swept all the five golds at the Indonesian SEA Games in 2011.

At the World Aquatics Championships, which begins this weekend in Kazan, Russia, men will be competing in synchronised swimming for the first time. Men were a part of the sport at its inception, but until now they have always been barred from competing at the highest level. Will the door to the Olympics open next?

There is nothing in the world that can prevent 25 July 2015 from being the best day in Bill May's life. "It's something that I have dreamed of my entire life," he says, "to step out on that deck with the world's best."Many already count Bill May as one of the world's great synchronised swimmers. Next weekend, 11 years after he retired, he will get his chance to prove it. Whether or not he ends up winning his event, the chance to compete in the US team at the World Championships in the Russian city of Kazan is the delayed culmination of a career that has brought triumph and frustration in equal measure.May made his big splash in 1998, when he and his partner Kristina Lum won the duet event at the US National Championships, then took silver at the Goodwill Games. He was named USA Synchro's athlete of the year in 1998 and 1999, and he went on to win 14 national events as well as titles in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.But he was prevented from performing at the World Championships or the Olympics because it was seen at the highest level as a sport for women.

May retired and started a stint that still continues, as the male lead in O, a water-themed Cirque du Soleil production in Las Vegas.Then suddenly last November there was an announcement from Fina, world swimming's governing body, that mixed technical and freestyle duets would be on the programme of the World Championships. Bill May came out of retirement, and he brought two former teammates with him.His partner for the technical routine is former Olympian Christina Jones, 27, who also appears in O, and for the free routine he will be reunited with the woman with whom he first won the US National Championship 17 years ago - Kristina Lum Underwood.

By synchro standards, this pair is positively antique. While the next oldest member of the US team is 25, May is 36. Lum Underwood, meanwhile, is 38 - and had a baby in January.Synchro had been an Olympic sport since 1984, but only as an event for women; these men have proved that they are strong-willed and will the opportunity now beckon on them is the Q ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st July 2015.

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