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U.S. Shut Out of Sychro Medals

September 29, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The United States’ reign as the world’s first synchronized swimming superpower ended Friday as the Americans failed to win a medal for the first time since the sport joined the Olympics in 1984.

Russia won the team competition with a witch-themed routine, adding to the gold medal it picked up in duet three days earlier.

The Russians scored 99.146 out of a possible 100 points. They earned two perfect 10s for technical marks and two 10s for artistic impression, with a variety of pattern changes, lifts and throws.

Japan took silver with 98.860. Canada was third at 97.357.

The Americans, who came in as defending champions, finished fifth at 96.104. France was fourth at 96.467.

``I know we did the best job we could,″ said Kristina Lum, of Santa Clara, Calif. ``What else can we do?″

Anna Kozlova and Tuesday Middaugh placed fourth in duet Tuesday, ending the United States’ incredible run of capturing a medal in every synchronized event since it became an Olympic sport in Los Angeles 16 years ago.

``The U.S. has been on top for so long, I think everyone is very happy to push it down,″ said Kozlova, a Russian who became a U.S. citizen nearly a year ago.

The eight Americans began the free routine in fifth place after a synchronization blunder marred their train-themed technical routine, which accounts for 35 percent.

Choosing a storm theme for the five-minute free routine, the Americans opened with a double tower lift, in which two swimmers _ one on top of the other _ are hoisted out of the water by their underwater teammates.

``Everything looked so together, so strong,″ said Heather Pease-Olson, who turned 25 Friday. ``I don’t think we could have asked for a better-feeling swim.″

The judges disagreed, scoring the United States no higher than 9.7 on technique and artistic impression.

``I thought it was almost perfect. It was a great swim,″ Kozlova said. ``I’m not happy with the scores, but we gave it all we could.″

The U.S. team was comprised of Carrie Barton, Tammy Cleland-McGregor, Bridget Finn, Kozlova, Lum, Elicia Marshall, Pease-Olson and Kim Wurzel.

Pease-Olson, who earned a gold medal in Atlanta, said the Americans were better than they were four years ago.

``I was looking back at the film from ’96 and I could see a lot of mistakes, but we still got perfect scores except for one 9.9,″ she said. ``I definitely felt like we were more together today than we were then.″

Performing a routine titled ``The Bird of Wonder,″ Japan received one 10 for technique _ from the Japanese judge _ and four 10s for artistic impression.

Russians Olga Brusnikina and Maria Kisseleva were the duet champions, and picked up gold again in the team competition.

The free routine, worth 65 percent of the final score, is more creative than the technical portion, in which teams are required to perform identical movements.

Teams can perform any lifts, throws and configurations they want in the five-minute free.

The team event was added to the Olympic program in Atlanta.

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