2 Anastasias Open Strong In Technicals

BEIJING -- Russian world champions Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Yermakova led the way through the technical routine in their Olympic synchronized swimming duet title defense on Monday.

Davydova and Yermakova amassed a total of 98.667 points, one full point more than second-placed Andrea Fuentes and Gemma Mengual of Spain, the European champions.

The "Two Anastasias," who have won the last three world championship duet titles, missed this year's European championships and the Spanish pair won in their absence.

"We both caught colds and had high fevers. It happened three or four days before our [scheduled] departure," Davydova said.

Japan's Saho Harada and Emiko Suzuki were third overall with 96.500, followed by Chinese identical twins Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen with 96.167.

China has risen steadily in the rankings since Japanese coach Masayo Imura was hired in 2006, and is chasing its first Olympic medals in the sport in Beijing.

Russia won both duet and team at the last two Olympics. The free routine preliminary round is on Tuesday and free routine final on Wednesday. The final scores comprise 50 percent of the technical routine scores and 50 percent of the free routine final scores.

The team event concludes the Olympic program on Friday and Saturday.