As the excitement of the Olympic Test Event continues to die down, the Croatian federation is preparing to host the fifth edition of the 2016 Challenge Cup series in the eastern city of Osijek this weekend.
Many of the Test Event and future Olympic competitors are sitting this one out, though Teja Belak of Slovenia is already keen to get back to competition, hoping to pick up her third vault medal of the season alongside teammate Tjasa Kysselef, who is going for her fifth. Veteran Adela Sajn and newcomer Lana Voler will also compete.
Paula Mejias of Puerto Rico hopes to be some big competition on vault. She generally sneaks into the vault final with some low-difficulty vaults but then goes for broke in finals, so we’ll see how she fares here. Mejias missed out on a test event spot this year, but has been doing well otherwise and has goals in the sport beyond the 2016 Games. The same can be said for the Hungarians, specifically Dorina Boczogo and Boglarka Devai, who hope to represent their country at the European Championships next month. Dora Szekely is also part of the Hungarian team here.
This competition will also see several gymnasts from countries with full teams at the Olympics hoping to impress enough to land on their respective squads this summer, like Carolyne Pedro and Milena Theodoro of Brazil, Megan Roberts and Rose-Kaying Woo of Canada, Ellie Downie and Ruby Harrold of Great Britain, and a trio of Seda Tutkhalyan, Maria Kharenkova, and Natalia Kapitonova for Russia. Additionally, while teams like Israel, Norway, Kazakhstan, and Serbia didn’t qualify anyone to the Games, they’ll all have athletes here to rack up experience for the future.
Host team Croatia earned a spot in Rio thanks to Ana Derek. She’ll be in Osijek this weekend meeting with fans, but sadly will not compete. The country will instead see Ema Kajic, Karmen Koljanin, Dora Kranzelic, and Ana Poscic.
Other competitors this weekend include Rahaf Armia Zakaria and Sherine El Zeiny of Egypt, Ece Ayan and Marcela Torres of Sweden, a Ukrainian team featuring Yana Horokhova, Iryna Romanchuk, and Kateryna Shumeiko, and then three gymnasts from South Africa, including Kirsten Beckett, Lukisha Schalk, and Claudia Cummins, who earned a placement in Rio thanks to the universality clause, though it’s unknown yet whether or not the South African Olympic Committee will allow her to accept.
The World Challenge Cup in Osijek will be held from April 28 through May 1. A full list of MAG and WAG contenders is below.
|Petrix Stevan Barbosa||Carolyne Pedro
|Mohamed Sherif El Saharty
|Rahaf Armia Zakaria
Sherine El Zeiny
Paul Ruggeri III
Article by Lauren Hopkins