Young Stars Hope to Shine in Osijek

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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.

ARGENTINA
Nicolas Cordoba
BELGIUM
Maxime Gentges
BRAZIL
Petrix Stevan Barbosa Carolyne Pedro
Milena Theodoro
CANADA
Megan Roberts
Rose-Kaying Woo
CROATIA
Andrej Korosteljev
Tomislav Markovic
Marijo Moznik
Robert Seligman
Tin Srbic
Filip Ude
Ema Kajic
Karmen Koljanin
Dora Kranzelic
Ana Poscic
CUBA
Manrique Larduet
EGYPT
Mohamed Sherif El Saharty
Ali Zahran
Rahaf Armia Zakaria
Sherine El Zeiny
FINLAND
Kasper Holopainen
Heikki Saarenketo
Tomi Tuuha
Markku Vahtila
Sakari Vekki
GERMANY
Matthias Fahrig
GREAT BRITAIN
Dominick Cunningham
Gaius Thompson
Ashley Watson
Ellie Downie
Ruby Harrold
HUNGARY
Adam Babos
Norbert Dudas
Botond Kardos
David Vecsernyes
Dorina Boczogo
Boglarka Devai
Dora Szekely
ISRAEL
Artem Dolgopyat
Eyal Glazer
Andrey Medvedev
Alexander Shatilov
Moran Yanuka
Tzuf Feldon
Gaya Giladi
Ofir Kremer
KAZAKHSTAN
Danil Baturin
Nurtas Kozhakov
Azizbek Kudratullayev
Yekaterina Chuikina
Anna Geidt
LATVIA
Vitalijs Kardasovs
Dmitrijs Trefilovs
NETHERLANDS
Rick Jacobs
Bram Verhofstad
Jusetn Zuidema
NORWAY
Marcus Conradi
Pietro Giachino
Odin Kalvoe
Sofie Braaten
Sofie Skattun
PUERTO RICO 
Paula Mejias
RUSSIA
Denis Ablyazin
Emin Garibov
Nikita Nagornyy
Natalia Kapitonova
Maria Kharenkova
Seda Tutkhalyan
SERBIA
Bojan Dejanovic
Dusan Dordevic
Milos Paunovic
Petar Velickovic
Jelena Stamenkovic
SLOVAKIA
Slavomir Michnak
Samuel Piasecky
Ivan Vargovsky
SLOVENIA
Saso Bertoncelj
Alen Dimic
Luka Kisek
Rok Klavora
Jure Pavlica
Ziga Silc
Teja Belak
Tjasa Kysselef
Adela Sajn
Lana Voler
SOUTH AFRICA
Kirsten Beckett
Claudia Cummins
Lukisha Schalk
SWEDEN
Ece Ayan
Marcela Torres
SWITZERLAND
Benjamin Gischard
Oliver Hegi
Eddy Yusof
TURKEY
Ibrahim Colak
Ahmet Onder
Umit Samiloglu
UKRAINE
Igor Radivilov
Maksym Semiankiv
Oleg Verniaiev
Yana Horokhova
Iryna Romanchuk
Kateryna Shumeiko
UNITED STATES
Steven Legendre
Sean Melton
Paul Ruggeri III

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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5 thoughts on “Young Stars Hope to Shine in Osijek

    • Their Olympic Committee doesn’t like funding Olympic spots that aren’t earned. If an athlete doesn’t earn the spot on her own merit, they refuse to send them…so because Cummins didn’t get a spot at the test event and rather got the spot under an inclusion rule, they don’t think they should accept it.

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      • Seriously wowed that you know this. I feel like you should screenshot this Q&A next time someone’s like “why u so USA-centric wah wah wahhh.” Thank you.

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