TOKYO (AP) — Holding back tears, her freshly won seventh Olympic gold medal hanging around her neck, Svetlana Romashina announced the end of the greatest Olympic career in artistic swimming history.
After leading the Russian squad to victory in the team event at the Tokyo Games on Saturday, the 31-year-old Romashina wants to embrace motherhood.
Already the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, Romashina said it's time to leave the sport and have another child.
“It will be my last Olympic Games as an athlete. Maybe (in the future) you will see me (as) a coach,” Romashina said. “I just want to be with my family now. I want to have my second baby.
“The sixth and the seventh (golds) were the (toughest) in my life. I became a mother and it was very difficult to be a mother and an athlete at one moment," she added. "If I tell you about my daughter I will cry.”
Romashina has won or been on the winning team of every single event she’s participated in at four Olympics.
The only other athletes who have won at least seven Olympic golds without ever claiming silver or bronze are Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American jumper Ray Ewry, who both won eight golds in track and field.
“Svetlana, she’s a legend, a legend of sport, legend of artistic swimming and I think no one will beat her," said teammate Maria Shurochkina, who also won the team event with Romashina at the 2016 Games. "Seven Olympic medals: it’s just too much. We have just two.”
The rest of the ROC team included: Vlada Chigireva, Marina Goliadkina, Svetlana Kolesnichenko, Aleksandra Patskevich, Alla Shishkina and Polina Komar.
Romashina teamed with Kolesnichenko to win the duet on Wednesday.
The Russians were heavy favorites in a sport they have dominated for more than two decades. Their last Olympic loss in what was then known as synchronized swimming came at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Performing to “Parade of Planets” by Denis Gornizov, with planet designs on their swimsuits, ROC was awarded 98.8000 points for the free routine and finished with a total of 196.0979 points after also leading the technical routine.
China finished 2.5669 points behind to take the silver medal and Ukraine was 5.7961 behind for bronze.
Standing on the top step of the podium during the awards ceremony, Romashina took her gold medal and clinked it with teammate Patskevich’s newly won hardware.
Kind of like saying “cheers” over a glass of wine.
And why not celebrate?
Romashina said she needs to take some time before deciding whether she might compete again. But she was firm that this was her final Olympics.
“That’s all," she said.
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