Olympians Return at France’s Top 12 Meet

The French federation hosted a team competition for its twelve best club teams this weekend. Called the Top 12 Championships, each team consisted of five or six gymnasts counting four scores on each event, with the top club of the day taking the gold medals and the Top 12 trophy, similar to Italy’s Serie A or Germany’s Bundesliga. The teams were mostly made of French gymnasts, some elite and some at a lower level, but guests gymnasts also came from several countries around Europe to help their adopted teams out.

The winning team was Independante Stephanoise, featuring the Charpy sisters — Serena, Grace, and new senior Lorette — as well as Belgian guests Senna Dereks and Julie Meyers. Deriks ended up leading the team, counting a fall on beam, but performing well on vault and floor and hitting a beautiful set on bars to earn a 14.033, very nice for this code.

She was fourth all-around with a 51.798, with Lorette Charpy just a tenth behind her in fifth, earning a 51.698 after a pretty similar day — falling on beam, but looking solid everywhere else. Grace Charpy was ninth all-around with a 51.133, Meyers was 26th all-around with a 47.432 after a pretty rough day overall, and Serena Charpy performed all events but floor, where Doriane Thobie contributed a 12.2 to the winning total of 203.528, a half point ahead of the silver medalists, Avoine Beaumont, finishing with a 203.060.

Elizaveta Kochetkova, a new senior from Russia, led Avoine Beaumont to a second-place finish, placing second all-around as well with a 52.798 after falling on beam, but putting up the highest score on floor of 13.033 as well as a 14.366 on bars for her clean, difficult routine. She was helped out by Alison Lepin, eighth all-around with a 51.198 after a mostly messy day, though her bars were fantastic, earning the high of 14.4.

Also competing for Avoine were Leanne Bourgeois in 14th with a 49.665, rising star junior Carolann Heduit in 20th with a 48.332 (she had a standout performance on floor), and Lucie Perdreau in 31st with a 46.532.

Coming in for bronze was the team from Alliance Dijon Gym 21, which earned a 202.795, showing great work on vault and floor but not able to keep up with the top teams on bars. The team was actually led by a pair of American gymnasts from Metroplex, Jaylene Gilstrap and Chae Campbell, both of whom competed at U.S. Championships last summer.

Gilstrap, still a junior, placed third all-around at this meet with a 52.199, standing out with clean work on vault and powerful tumbling on floor, where her 12.933 was the second-best score of the day. Campbell, meanwhile, was the best vaulter at this competition with a 13.933 for her perfect FTY, but some struggles on other events pushed her down to 7th all-around with a 51.265.

Also helping out Alliance were Assia Khnifass in 19th with a 48.498, Clara Gandrey in 20th with a 48.332, and junior standout Celia Serber competing all events but vault.

Beyond the top three, none of the remaining teams really came close, but there were some standout individual performances from both the French gymnasts and guest gymnasts alike.

Most fans were excited to see 2016 Olympians Louise Vanhille, Marine Boyer, and Oreane Lechenault back in action. Vanhille, representing Dunkerque, had an especially strong performance, earning a 52.898 all-around to win the title in addition to posting the second-best score on beam and the third-best score on floor.

Boyer, representing Meaux Gymnastique, didn’t have quite as a successful day in her official return from Rio, placing 10th with a 50.732 after a fall on her best event — beam — as well as on floor, but she posted the second-best vault score of the day with a 13.9 in addition to hitting her often troublesome bars set. Lechenault, of Elan Gymnique Rouennais, had a rough performance mostly, including on bars where she normally shines, but she still managed a 12.5 on beam, which was the third-best of the day there.

Another big Olympian on the roster was Nina Derwael, who made history in Rio as Belgium’s best all-around finisher at an Olympic Games. Derwael has been dealing with some nagging injuries, and so she was quite limited on beam and floor, earning a 51.666 all-around. But her bars were incredible, and she contributed a huge 14.4 — tying Lepin for the best of the day — to Dunkerque while also unveiling her brand-new Ricna half to Ezhova combination; she hopes to get the Ricna half named for her at worlds later this year.

Other names to note included 2016 junior Euros team member Janna Mouffok of Meaux Gymnastique in 11th with a 50.599, Russian junior Valeria Saifullina of Normandie Regroupement in 12th with a 50.499 in addition to posting the third-best score of the day on vault with a 13.8, Olympic alternate Anne Kuhm of Elan Gymnique Rouennais in 15th with a 49.598, and promising Ukrainian junior Anastasiia Bachynska of Gym Flip Beaucaire with the third-best floor score of 12.866.

Full results from the Top 12 Championships are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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