We haven’t even gotten to the first world cup of the year yet, but the competitor list has been released for the second apparatus competition to be held in Baku, and it’s a fantastic one.
While Melbourne starts out a bit slow without many gymnasts on the list — thanks to both the early point in the season and the great geographical distance most competitors would have to travel in order to compete — Baku is a bit more exciting.
Veterans of multiple Olympic Games Catalina Ponor of Romania, Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, and Vasiliki Millousi of Greece are only three of the highlights in the women’s field, which will also see the return of 2016 bronze medalist Shang Chunsong of China and 2016 Olympian Teja Belak, who won three world cup apparatus medals last year. 2016 Olympian Angelina Kysla is back as well after a phenomenal post-Olympic season, now competing under her married name Radivilova!
2012 Olympian Emily Little, who will return in Melbourne next week, is also on the roster alongside a strong team of Australian prospects, as are Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan — who missed out on qualifying to Rio by only one spot last year — and Diana Varinska of Ukraine, who is expected to make her senior debut in Baku.
For the men, it’ll be hometown hero Oleg Stepko in the spotlight. The two-time Olympian competed for Ukraine at the London Games, but changed his nationality a couple of years later to begin representing Azerbaijan, winning two medals for his adopted country at home in Baku at the European Games in 2015 before winning bronze on p-bars at worlds and placing 22nd in the all-around final in Rio.
At last year’s apparatus world cup in Baku, Stepko made four of the six finals and took home three medals, including the gold on p-bars, so this could be another incredibly exciting meet for the 22-year-old, who already has two Olympics under his belt but is still just getting started.
2016 Olympic rings champion Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece will compete on his gold-medal event, as will 2012 Olympic pommels champion Krisztian Berki of Hungary. The men’s roster also includes Olympians like Filip Ude of Croatia, Oskar Kirmes of Finland, Julien Gobaux and Cyril Tommasone of France, Alexander Shatilov of Israel, Robert Tvorogal of Lithuania, and Cristian Bataga and Vlad Cotuna of Romania.
The competition begins March 16. A full list of competitors is below.
|Clay Mason Stephens
|Mahdi Ahmad Kohani
Ali Saadi Mohsin Al-Tameemi
|Ana Maria Ocolisan
Goksu Uctas Sanli
Article by Lauren Hopkins