Croatian gymnast Ana Derek, above, hopes to wind up on the floor podium at this year’s Osijek Challenge Cup.
Just a week after the Koper Challenge Cup in Slovenia, which we talked about last week, the second challenge cup of the season will be held in neighboring Croatia, as Osijek will host gymnasts from 31 countries vying for medals and prizes in this apparatus final competition.
Many of those will tackle both events, with the Brazilians most notably doing so. 2016 Olympians Flavia Saraiva and Rebeca Andrade have major medal potential, and first-year senior Thais Fidelis can do big things on beam, so they’ll be ones to watch once again.
Also on the roster is 2017 European all-around silver medalist Zsofia Kovacs, her 2017 European vault bronze medalist teammate Boglarka Devai, and two-time Olympian Dorina Böczögö, making for quite the contingent from the Hungarian federation. 2016 Olympian Teja Belak of Slovenia and her teammate Tjasa Kysselef are big medal threats on vault, two-time 2016 European junior gold medalist Anastasia Iliankova of Russia is hoping to top the podium on bars, Diana Varinska of Ukraine, who won gold on bars at the Baku World Cup in March, is also hoping to add another international bars medal to her collection after missing the final at Euros, and two young British gymnasts — first-year Welsh senior Latalia Bevan and 2017 British beam champion Phoebe Turner (who is training a layout stepout mount straight into two more layout stepouts!) — will also get some world stage experience under their belts as they hope to add to their country’s depth this quad.
We’ll also get Laura Jurca of Romania back in major international competition for the first time since worlds in 2015. She’s done a few low-key meets since then, including some of Germany’s Bundesliga meets late in 2016, and then a small meet in France a couple of months ago, but Osijek will mark her return to the global stage and I can’t wait to see how she looks. She’ll compete alongside the promising Ioana Crisan, who did a decent job in Cluj last month (especially on bars!), though a struggle on beam kept her from finishing in the top eight all-around.
From the host country, 2016 Olympian Ana Derek will compete beam and floor, and with a hit routine, she could absolutely wind up on the podium on either event, though floor is more likely. Derek won the bronze on floor at Doha in March, and would’ve qualified for the floor final at Euros after an incredible start to her routine, but she crashed her final pass, so we’ll definitely see her at her best here, making up for the unfortunate error in Cluj.
Robert Seligman and Tin Srbic are both medal hopefuls for the host country on the men’s side, and the Brazilians — Francisco Barretto Jr., Lucas Bitencourt, and Arthur Zanetti — should also be in the mix, just like they’ll be in Koper. Also keep an eye on Jossimar Calvo of Colombia, Krisztian Berki of Hungary on pommels, Andrey Medvedev of Israel on vault, the talented Lithuanians Tomas Kuzmickas and Robert Tvorogal, Dmitrii Lankin of Russia, pretty much all of the Slovenians, and Bart Duerloo of the Netherlands on high bar.
A full list of competitors is below. The challenge cup will begin in Osijek on May 18.
|Francisco Barretto, Jr.
|Audrys Nin Reyes|
|Man Hin Jim||Tsz Sum Chan
Ho Yat Cheung
Boudewijn de Vries
|Slavomir Michnak||Barbora Mokosova|
Jose Luis Fuentes