With the conclusion of today’s podium training, competition is set to begin Wednesday at the 2012 European Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championship. As a stepping stone to London 2012, the Championship provides athletes with the opportunity to try out new skills and impress their Olympic selection committees.
Double Front attended the first three of four senior subdivisions today. We did not attend the final subdivision which included LAT, BUL, NED, IRL, GRE, SWE, LUX, MDA, FIN and GER.
(Not including the last subdivision of course)
- Team Belgium had a very business-like approach to training today. It was evident they were focused on perfecting their routines and qualifying to the team final. This is especially important to the Belgians as they narrowly missed qualifying to the 2012 Olympics. Julie Crocket showed her quality throughout the training and could contend for a medal on floor exercise.
- Former World Champion Aliya Mustafina is back in form and performing nearly to the same level as two years ago. She has grown since her world title and ACL injury and has adjusted her vault to a double twisting Yurchenko. Both she and Victoria Komova are known to have horrid training sessions and both had a few falls today. However, I don’t doubt that the team will deliver strong performances during qualifications and finals. Russia is obviously one to watch during team finals but they will face some stiff competition.
- Romania was probably the most impressive team of the day. The team had very few falls and mistakes. Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar and Catalina Ponor were the strongest of the group, displaying quality performances on beam and floor. Sandra Izbasa had trouble with her floor routine but all of her experience will help her perform at her best during competition. The Romanian team is working to get Diana Chelaru accredited so she can compete. Today, she watched her teammates from the stands. Overall, this Romanian team is much stronger than last year’s and is likely determined to improve upon their bronze medal finish from 2011. With a combination of talented veterans and youngsters, the Romanians have a real shot at team gold.
- Great Britain is also a likely contender for the podium. Team GB won their first ever European team medal (silver) at last year’s event. Veterans Hannah Whelan and Danusia Francis delivered respectable routines today as did newcomers Rebecca Tunney and Ruby Harrold. Tunney and Harrold are the only athletes on the team performing Yurchenko double twists. These vaults alone improve GB’s chances of making the podium. They also give the girls a better chance of making the Olympic team. Even without their World and European Champion Beth Tweddle, the team is strong enough to mount a challenge to Russia and Romania.
- Since I missed the final subdivision, I’m not sure how Germany fared. I read that Elisabeth Seitz recently pulled out of the competition. Seitz placed second all around at the 2011 Europeans. This is definitely a blow to the German team and could well hinder their chances of making the podium this year. On a positive note, the German juniors did an excellent job yesterday in podium training and look more than capable of carrying the torch of German gymnastics.
Photo: Kristal S. Boulden