Every Olympic year, discussions about which athletes deserve to be called the greatest of all time pick up with a renewed fervor. Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Usain Bolt are some common suggestions from over the last few Games, but there is one competitor who, despite achieving a flawless record in her sport, consistently gets overlooked.
Artistic swimmer Svetlana Romashina boasts a whopping 39 total gold medals from competing in six European championships, seven world championships and four Olympic Games. She has never placed lower than first at any of these events, and by adding two more golds in Tokyo, she broke all medal-count ties to become the most decorated athlete ever in her sport.
When she stood on the podium in Tokyo with her teammates representing the Russian Olympic Committee, it was her seventh time at the top. Her sixth Olympic gold came just three days prior when she won the duet competition with partner Svetlana Kolesnichenko.
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The Russians were favored to win the team competition after posting the highest score in the technical round Friday. Their nearly-perfect 97.2979 carried over to the final round of competition during which they outscored themselves with a 98.800. The ROC debuted a new routine titled "parade of the planets" that featured intricate choreography, perfectly synchronized splits and lifts so high it looked like the swimmers being tossed might actually blast off into space. The combined score of 196.0979 was over 2.5 points higher than China's total, which earned the nation its second artistic swimming silver of these Games.
China trailed the ROC by 1.0669 entering the second day of the team competition, but the Russians closed the door on any competitors with their stellar free routine and continued their dominant run that stretches back to 2000. Since the Sydney Olympics, athletes from Russia have won every artistic swimming gold.
Ukraine finished third after earning a 96.033 for their free routine, bringing their total to 190.3018. The bronze is the nation's second-ever medal in artistic swimming after Marta Fedina and Anastasiya Savchuk placed third in the duet competition.