Ukraine Shines at Stella Zakharova Cup

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The Stella Zakharova Cup in Kiev used to be one of the most well-attended meets in Europe, but with the current political climate, many federations are keeping their gymnasts at home.

The field may be limited, attracting gymnasts from only six countries in the women’s competition, but even so we were treated to some incredibly promising gymnastics from up-and-coming junior Anastasiia Bachynska, a 13-year-old who swept the junior titles in what was only the second international meet of her career.

Even with the depleted junior field — only four gymnasts ended up competing in this division — Bachynska’s scores would’ve held up in a busier meet. She put up a 53.650 in the all-around, winning that title by nearly ten points after scoring a 13.0 or higher on all four events with clean and polished routines, and then moved on to average a 12.938 on vault with a fall on her first attempt, a 13.175 for a hit bars set, a 12.975 with a fall on beam, and a 13.625 on floor, a score that would’ve won gold in the senior division by a point.

In addition to her five individual gold medals, Bachynska also contributed top scores to the team, helping them to the title by over five points ahead of the silver medalists. She’s one of the biggest talents to come through Ukraine in years, and when she reaches the senior level in 2019 she’ll join one of Ukraine’s other top talents, Diana Varinska, to help the team fight for a spot at the Olympic Games, which would be a huge feat after missing out in 2012 and 2016.

The seniors also had lots of individual success, picking up five all-around and event medals in a much busier field. Yana Fedorova won the gold in the all-around with a 50.850, followed closely by new senior Valeriia Osipova with a 50.200 for silver. They had some mistakes, but Fedorova showed great work on floor while Osipova looked promising on beam and had lovely leaps on floor.

The second Ukraine team, which won the bronze medal, featured Anastasiia Bieliaieva in fourth with a 49.600, Valeriia Iarmolenko in seventh with a 47.800, and Anastasiia Budiashkina in eighth with a 47.750. These three also had their moments, with Iarmolenko particularly exciting as she has a gorgeous floor set and will hopefully continue to grow there as a young senior.

Fedorova ended up winning the gold on vault, averaging a 13.375, Osipova won the silver on bars with a 12.175, both Ukrainians in the beam final missed out on medaling there after falls, with Osipova finishing seventh and Bieliaieva finishing eighth, and Fedorova got her third gold of the meet on floor with a 12.675.

The Malaysian team, featuring the return of Farah Ann Abdul Hadi in her first meet back in nearly a year, won the silver medal, with Ang Tracie and Tan Ing Yueh also competing well. Abdul Hadi won an individual bronze in the all-around, scoring a 49.900 with an incredible floor set allowing her to come back from a fall on beam, while Ang finished sixth with a 48.700 and Tan Ing finished 15th with a 43.850, looking fabulous on beam and floor but having a disastrous performance on bars bring her overall score down.

We also got to see some individual competitors who didn’t contribute to the team, including Li Wen Rachel Yeoh in ninth with a 46.800, Nur Eli Ellina Azmi in 11th with a 45.350, Siti Nur Bahirah Ahmad in 14th with a 43.950, and Nur Azira Aziri in 16th with a 42.700.

In addition to her all-around medal, Abdul Hadi also got the bronze on bars with a 12.050 and finished fourth on floor with a 12.5 after a far weaker performance than she showed on the first day of competition. Tan Ing and Ang got the silver and bronze medals on vaults, averaging scores of 13.363 and 13.225, respectively, with Ang also placing fourth on bars annd Tan Ing getting the silver on floor with a 12.65 while finishing fourth on beam with a 12.4.

The team from Belarus placed fourth, and we saw new senior Hanna Traukova give a standout performance in the all-around, finishing fifth with a 49.100, a super solid score for Belarus. She was at her best on beam and floor, and came back from several falls in the bars final to win the gold on beam with a 12.950, showing fantastic execution throughout her routine while also finishing sixth on floor.

Her teammates were both juniors, and picked up the silver and bronze in nearly every individual final. Aliaksandra Varabyova won silver in the all-around with a 44.800 in addition to silver on beam and floor and bronze on vault and bars, while Jana Metelitsa won all-around bronze with a 44.650, also picking up a bronze on floor on top of a pair of silvers on vault and bars.

Gabriela Janik of Poland competed as an individual here, placing 10th all-around after a pretty rough day for her, scoring only a 46.500. She also fell on her second vault in that final, placing fourth when she could’ve otherwise easily won the title, though she came back strong to win gold on bars with a 13.325, silver on beam with a 12.850, and bronze on floor with a 12.575, with all three of those event finals performances looking excellent.

In the junior field, Mariam Peradze of Georgia competed as an individual, and in the four-person field, she finished fourth on every event but beam, where she managed the bronze with an 11.2 for her hit routine.

Full results from the competition are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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