Adela and Vendula Merkova, members of Czech Republic’s junior European Championships team who train at the Bohemians Club in Prague, took the top two spots at the Vitkovice Cup in Ostrava over the weekend.
The twins, who turn 16 in March and will therefore begin competing at the senior level in 2017, finished first and second in the all-around and on all events but vault, where they both have low difficulty. Adela was a four-time gold medalist with a 53.45 all-around score, while Vendula got bronze on vault and silver everywhere else for a 52.45 total.
Floor was an incredible event for both girls, who were both technically excellent in addition to showing breathtaking artistic talent. Adela opened her routine with a flawless double Y turn and also performed a ring leap, switch ring, and double L turn in addition to nailing her double tuck, double full, and front full passes for a total of 13.7. Vendula then followed up with a 13.55 for a routine that included the same tumbling passes as her sister, equally exquisite dance (her double L turn to full pirouette), and lovely presentation, especially on her signature back walkover into a split, choreography that always gets applause.
Lucie Jirikova, who trains at the Sokol gym in Brno, won the bronze medal with a 50.9, hitting a solid handspring front pike vault for a 13.9 and then getting a 13.35 for bronze on floor. Also a member of the European Championships team, Jirikova turns senior in 2017 and like the Merkovas, should be a huge part of the Czech Republic’s coming revival in the sport. Dominika Ponizilova of Prostejov was fourth with a 50.2, Kristyna Brabcova of Bohemians was fifth with a 49.4, Jasmina Hnilcova of Sokol Brno was sixth with a 48.1, Katerina Jelinkova of Sokol Brno was seventh with a 47.35, and Eliska Firtova of Bohemians was eighth with a 47.25.
The only senior to compete at this meet was Veronika Cenkova of the Sokol gym in Ostrava. The 17-year-old just returned from Szombathely where she won the bronze on beam and silver on floor at the final world cup of the season, a big achievement for the gymnast as she hopes to lead this young team at the international level next season following the recent retirement of two-time Olympian Kristyna Palesova.
At the Vitkovice Cup, Cenkova didn’t have her full difficulty, though she competed in a division with lower level 13 and 14-year-olds, so it was easy for her to rack up the golds. She did an exemplary job on floor, earning a 13.5 for her tidy routine, and got a 50.8 overall with some mistakes on bars and beam as well as a downgraded vault (she only did a Yurchenko tuck here). Vault was the one event where she didn’t have the highest score, earning a 12.55 to get silver behind 13-year-old Karolina Tihelkova, who trains at the host club.
Missing from this meet was Aneta Holasova, another product of the Bohemians gym along with the twins. Holasova was expected to achieve big things at Euros earlier this year, but she injured her knee in training and was forced to go into surgery straight away, taking her out of competition for about eight months. Only halfway through her recovery, Holasova should hopefully return better than ever next spring, just in time to make her senior debut.
Article by Lauren Hopkins