Doha World Aquatics Championships heats up for some Olympic berths

February 2, 2024
Despite the absence of some star swimmers, the Doha World Aquatics Championships, taking place here from February 2-18

Doha (Qatar), Feb 1 (IANS) Despite the absence of some star swimmers, the Doha World Aquatics Championships, taking place here from February 2-18, emerges as a pivotal platform for athletes aiming to secure their spots for Paris 2024 or to build momentum towards the Games.

This year, the swimming competitions, unrelated to Olympic qualification, introduce a distinct dynamic as many teams pivot their focus towards Paris 2024.

The United States has significantly reduced its delegation to 18 swimmers, down from 48 at the Fukuoka World Aquatics Championships last July. Notably absent American stars include Katie Ledecky, the 16-time individual world champion, Caeleb Dressel, and Ryan Murphy, reports Xinhua.

In Doha, American defending champions Hunter Armstrong (50m backstroke) and Kate Douglass (200m individual medley) are set to defend their titles.

China has opted for a strategic absence of its Olympic and world champions Zhang Yufei, Wang Shun, Yang Junxuan, Ye Shiwen, Qin Haiyang, and Xu Jiayu. A newer generation of swimmers like Li Bingjie, Yu Yiting, and Pan Zhanle, will represent the country in Doha.

Australia, which led the medal tally with 13 gold medals in Fukuoka, also sees key absences including Kaylee McKeown, Mollie O’Callaghan, Ariarne Titmus, Kyle Chalmers, and Samuel Short. Cam McEvoy, the reigning 50m freestyle world champion, heads the Australian team.

DIVING QUALIFICATION HEATS UP

The diving events at the Hamad Aquatic Centre are set to allocate Olympic spots across 12 individual and four team events. China’s diving squad includes six Olympic champions. Quan Hongchan and Chen Yuxi, who have led the women’s individual 10m platform and synchronised 10m platform events, are highlights of the team.

Xie Siyi and Wang Zongyuan, men’s 3m springboard synchro champions, add to the anticipation. Cao Yuan, aiming for the men’s 10m platform title, returns from injury. Zhang Jiaqi teams up with 14-year-old Huang Jianjie for the mixed synchronized 10m platform, Huang being the sole non-world champion on the team.

Britain has sent their strongest lineup to Doha, targeting men’s synchronized 10m platform, women’s 3m springboard, and men’s 3m springboard. Tom Daley pairs with Noah Williams for the men’s synchronized 10m platform, while Matty Lee competes in the team event.

Australian diver Cassiel Rousseau defends his men’s individual 10m platform title, having ended China’s dominance in Fukuoka.

OTHER EVENTS SPARK EXCITEMENT

Artistic swimming promises a blend of intricate routines, stunning costumes, and dramatic performances. Mexico, China, France, Australia, and Egypt have secured Olympic team quotas. Doha offers the last chance for teams to claim spots, with the top five, excluding already qualified teams, securing team quotas and a chance at Olympic duet quotas.

In water polo, the Dutch women’s team, fresh from their European Championship win, seeks to defend their world title in Doha.

The open water events spotlight rising stars, including 18-year-old American Katie Grimes, the first American across any sport to qualify for Paris 2024.

–IANS

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