Chinese synchronized swimmers Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen earned two golds in the duet free and duet technical events at the 2017 FINA Synchronised Swimming World Series that recently took place in Paris. It was their first major title since they made a comeback in 2015.
The Chinese pair received 91.4818 points in the duet technical final, a huge lead of more than one point ahead of the runners-up: Japan's Yukiko Inui and Mai Nakamura. The Japanese pair were the bronze medalists in the 2012 London Olympics.
“No pain, No gold!” Jiang Wenwen said on her social media website, adding that the road to victory was a tough one that included countless frustrations. But when standing on the top of the podium for the first time after her comeback, she couldn't resist her emotions, and was seen weeping with happiness.
Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen used to be the leading figures of China's synchronized swimming squad. They made history in 2008 when they placed the fourth in the free combination event at the Beijing Olympics. They were also part of the team that won a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics.
The twins decided to retire after the National Games in 2013, holding a group wedding in the same year. In 2015, the twin sisters each decided to make a comeback after having daughters.
Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen are known for their artistic performance, although they remain a bit weak in terms of strength. But judging from their performance in Paris, the twin sisters have made significant improvements in terms of both strength and speed.
Their coach Zheng Jia told Xinhua that a fitness instructor was hired to work out a tailor-made training plan for the sisters in order to improve their strength. “The training was effective and it enables the sisters to make a breakthrough in terms of physical restraint,” Zheng added.
The Chinese pair adopted two brand-new routines in Paris which were much more difficult to execute. “But judging from their performance and the result, we can say that the two routines kept up with the latest developments of the event,” said Zheng.
“They didn't finalize the whole routines until one day ahead of the Paris series, and they surprised me with their wonderful performance,” Zheng said. “ I feared they would forget the routines because normally they need to practice a new routine more than 20 times, but they did a great job in Paris,” she added.
Apart from the improvement in strength, Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen now have a better understanding of the sport and are more mature in their mentality, according to their coach. Normally, it takes about two hours for a synchronized swimmer to warm up, finding balance of the body and technique. But the Jiang sisters just need thirty minutes before entering a specialized training session.
“Their mentality has improved a lot since they became mothers. In the past, they did not fear anything in competition because they were capable. But now, they are not afraid of uncertainty because they are more mature,” Zheng said.
Speaking of future competitions, the twins said they are more willing to strive for victory, to pay attention to every detail in training, and to avoid going to the training with negative attitude. “Results is not the only thing that matters for us now,” said the twins.
In comparison to younger athletes, it takes a longer time for Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen to recover from every competition. But with their improvement in strength, mentality and artistic performance, they have every reason to expect more glory in the pool going forward.