Russia's dominance of synchronized swimming remained intact after it captured the Olympic team gold medal on August 19, preserving a 16-year winning streak.
Russia has won every Olympic gold medal in the sport since 2000, so the victory was hardly in doubt. A near-perfect score in the free routine meant none of the other competitors had much chance of matching the Russians' total.
Russia performed its routine to dramatic string music, wearing costumes depicting angel wings. The idea was to seem "like a prayer," said Natalia Ishchenko, who along with Svetlana Romashina became a five-time Olympic gold medalist, matching former Russian great Anastasia Davydova's record as the most decorated synchronized swimmer of all time.
"We joked before the competition that there are five Olympic rings and we need five Olympic medals," Ishchenko said.
Few other countries have come even close to contending with Russia for gold. It's hard to match Russia's combination of top training facilities, state funding, and choreography experience drawn from the Russian ballet tradition.
The final scores weren't even close. Russia won with 196.1439 points, with China taking silver at 192.9841 and Japan securing bronze with 189.2056.