Evgeniya Shelgunova of Russia is perhaps one of the least likely candidates of this year’s Russian Olympic team based on her competitive history throughout her senior career. But when the 18-year-old made her season debut at the Igor Vihrov Cup in Latvia this weekend, she may have given us reason to rethink her case.
The competition, attended almost solely by those in the Baltic region, saw Shelgunova win by a ten point margin over the silver medalist. Shelgunova swept the event titles, as well, with a 14.5 or higher on each of the four, including a massive 14.8 for her incredibly difficult work on beam. At the end of the day, she walked away with a 58.666 all-around score, a far cry from the 51.6 she earned at Elite Massilia at the end of last year.
Shelgunova was one of several options for the alternate at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, the spot going back and forth between her and Anastasia Dmitrieva, but this season she could very well find herself on the short list for the squad going to Rio, especially if she keeps up this level of consistency and balance across the board.
In second was Walentyna Smolka of Poland with a 48.383 followed by Margarita Aleksandrova of Latvia with a 45.266. Smolka had the second-best scores of the day on bars and floor, while Tatsiana Tsatsokha of Belarus was second-best on vault and Vaida Zitineviciute of Lithuania had the second highest with a solid 13.9 on beam. The bronze event medals went to Sofija Kasjanova of Latvia on vault, Nikola Melne of Latvia on bars, Tsatsokha on beam, and Aleksandra Kurcenko of Latvia on floor.
Anastasija Dubova of Latvia, Daniela Mihailova of Latvia, Laura Schäfer of Germany, Kati Sarasniemi of Finland, Liene Parijenko of Latvia, and Valeryia Tsekhmistrenka of Belarus also competed in Riga.
Article by Lauren Hopkins