DOHA: The World Aquatics Championships closed after 17 days of record-breaking performances, dramatic finishes and penalty shootouts.

More than 2,600 athletes from 204 countries and the World Aquatics Refugee Team competed across six sports and 75 medal events as the 21st edition of the flagship global aquatics event took place in the Qatari capital.

The event again showed its global appeal as over 320 hours of live broadcast coverage of every competition session and 17 daily one-hour highlights programmes were distributed to World Aquatics broadcast partners globally.

World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam paid tribute to the athletes, praised the Doha 2024 event organisers and hinted at the continuation of thrilling performances to come at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics in his closing address.

“Doha has been an outstanding home for our athletes and our aquatics family. Our athletes have loved competing here, and I know that they would want me to give a very big thank you to all the organisers.

“I also want to praise our athletes. We have seen some familiar faces, stars of our sports, winning medals, and we have also seen a new generation winning World Championship medals for the first time and even setting a new World Record. We have made history here in Doha, Qatar.

“These are thrilling times for all fans of aquatic sport. Our athletes continue to set new standards, and I am very excited to see what they will achieve in Paris.”

Swimmers bookended eight days of racing with record-setting performances. On the opening night of swimming in the Aspire Dome, nineteen-year-old Pan Zhanle lowered the 100m freestyle World Record to 46.80 as he led off the 4x100m freestyle relay for the People’s Republic of China to gold.

Swimming icons starred in Doha as well, with Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden completing the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly golden double again in Doha as she earned her record-extending 13th and 14th individual World Championship titles.

The depth and performance of the swimming field were further demonstrated by the 11 Continental Records set in Doha. Twenty-nine countries won swimming medals in Doha, making for the deepest medal table in World Aquatics Championship history.

In diving, China continued its dominance as the country’s divers won gold in nine of the sport’s 13 events on offer in Doha. Athletes from 55 nations performed over 3,100 dives during the nine-day competition as the athlete performances helped their National Olympic Committees (NOCs) earn positions at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Women’s water polo saw the United States return to the top step of the podium, winning their eighth world title overall – the USA’s fifth title in the past six editions of the event – with a tense 8-7 victory over Hungary in the final. Croatia secured their third world title in men’s water polo, capping off their tournament journey with a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Italy, winning 15-13.

In artistic swimming, a stunning week of competition saw China earn gold in seven of 11 events as they went on to earn the overall winner award. Doha also played a vital role in determining the teams and duets that qualified to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands was the standout performer in open water swimming, winning both the individual women’s 5km and 10km events. Logan Fontaine of France won the men’s 5km individual as the Paris 2024 host nation earned the maximum number of open water Olympic starting positions possible – two men and two women – for the upcoming Games. In the open water Mixed 4x1500m Relay, Australia anchor Kyle Lee stormed to a photo finish win over Italy.

Tension was in the lofty air of high diving as Aidan Heslop of Great Britain staged a second-day comeback to win gold from the men’s 27m tower. Meanwhile, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland reaffirmed her dominance in women’s high diving, clinching her fourth consecutive world title from the 20m tower. Iffland’s come-from-behind victory was sealed with a breathtaking performance on the fourth and final dive of the championships.

As part of World Aquatics’ ongoing commitment to the global development of aquatic sports, programmes for athletes, coaches and member federations were held throughout the World Aquatics Championships. Additional athlete-focused content included an Athletes’ Forum, World Aquatics Athletes’ Committee meetings, athlete ambassador events, and cultural exchanges. In Doha, these forums and workshops centred on the themes of athlete mental health and well-being.

Ninety-three World Aquatics Scholarship holders competed in Doha for the fourth time in history, the event also saw the participation of a World Aquatics Refugee Team comprised of Alaa Masoo and Eyad Masoud.

During the World Aquatics Championships Handover Ceremony between Doha and the future 2025 hosts Singapore, Doha 2024 Director Khaleel Al Jabir emphasised the power of peaceful competition in his address before the Sunday evening swimming session, the final event of the championships.

“Sport has a unique and powerful role in society and the World Aquatics Championships have exemplified this, reminding us of sports’ unifying power, especially in a world where conflict persists. Children have been inspired by the sport they have watched, and by the work of our Doha 2024 ambassadors visiting schools and clubs. We are confident this will lead to increased participation in aquatics sports in Qatar.”

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