"Even if I worked and was prepared for this moment a long time ago, I couldn't avoid the emotion when I listened to the French anthem!" Virginie Dedieu was indeed waiting for this gold medal for quite a while. In Perth 1998 and Fukuoka 2001, the solo event went to the Russians (first Olga Sedakova, then Olga Brusnikina) and the French conquered in both occasions the silver. Now, in Barcelona, Dedieu clearly beat all the rivals and conquered the first gold medal for France in synchro at a World Championships.
And with what class she accomplished this first! Displaying a programme based on the life of the famous French sculptor Camile Claudel, her performance was rich in emotion and showed a very high artistic sense. "I wanted to show something different to the judges. My main goal was to overcome the physical and technical aspect of the programme and to make them to enjoy and have fun," added Dedieu. Apparently this intention worked perfectly as the final notes on the scoreboard couldn't be more conclusive: three "10s" and two "9.9s" for the technical merit and five "10's" for the artistic impression. An overwhelming presentation that enchanted the spectators and created a special atmosphere of joy and complicity with Dedieu in the pool.
Born in Aix-en-Provence in February 1979, Virginie had a very good year in 2002 - European champion and winner of the solo event in the FINA World Cup. The championships in Barcelona were a decisive opportunity to get the missing gold medal, the accomplishment of a lifetime. "In the past I had all the qualities to win, but some mental strength was missing when I was entering the water. I managed to improve on that and now I just had to concentrate on the interpretation of my programme," concluded Virginie, who attracted a huge number of French supporters to the stands.
With such a performance, the remaining suspense would be the remaining two places of the podium. Two natural candidates were meant to fill the vacancies: Miya Tachibana (JPN), third two years ago in Fukuoka (and winner there of the duet event) and Anastasia Ermakova (RUS), the 20-year old Russian, current World Champion in duet and team event. But a Spanish surprise called Gemma Mengual would provide an upset.
Tachibana did not appear so inspired as in the past and the evaluation of the judges (notes between 9.6 and 9.8) was insufficient to fulfil her medal wish