Swimming-Mexican government takes pride in artistic team after cutting funding

FILE PHOTO: Artistic Swimming - FINA World Championships - Alfred Hajos Swimming Complex, Budapest, Hungary - June 25, 2022 A member of team Mexico performs during the women's team highlight final REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican artistic swimming team had to sell bathing suits and towels to pay for their Olympic preparations but it did not stop them winning three golds at the World Cup, drawing praise from the government who cut their funding.

Mexico increased their World Cup medal tally to four on Monday at the competition in Egypt, having travelled there thanks to the support of businessman Carlos Slim.

With three golds and a bronze, the North American country finished second in the medal table behind Spain.

Their first medal success came in the Mixed Team Technical event on Saturday, when a statement from the government praising the swimmers raised eyebrows after the National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport (CONADE) cut support from the team.

"The Mexican artistic swimming team's historic participation in the World Cup in Egypt was a golden one. Our athletes won first place, ahead of Italy and France. Congratulations!" wrote the Government on Twitter.

CONADE head Ana Guevara announced the cut in funding in January after global governing body World Aquatics did not recognise the president of the Mexican Swimming Federation, Kiril Todorov, who is facing a trial for embezzlement.

Mexico's aquatic athletes have since had to find ways to fund their preparations ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, seeking support through social media or selling items, as the artistic swimming team did, while Olympic diver Kevin Berlin launched his own brand of coffee.

World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam sent a message to Mexican aquatic athletes last month, assuring them that the organisation would support them to compete at the World Championships in Japan this summer.

(Reporting by Janina Nuno Rios in Mexico City; Editing by Toby Davis)

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