After a hiatus over the summer, the world cup series picks up once again in September with the third of five challenge cups in the 2016-2017 season.
With Varna held from September 1-3, Szombathely from September 8-10, and Paris from September 16-17, gymnasts will have several chances to compete at FIG-sanctioned meets in the weeks leading up to world championships, giving them a final few practice meets before they face the judges on the big stage in Montreal.
In Varna, the biggest names in the women’s field include Olympians Shallon Olsen of Canada and Rebeca Andrade, Jade Barbosa, and Daniele Hypolito of Brazil, with those three competing along with young teammate Thais Fidelis, a new senior and this year’s Brazilian national champion. Olsen has already been selected to her country’s worlds team, whereas the Brazilian team will be named in the coming weeks, with Flavia Saraiva — currently dealing with a minor injury — also in the mix as an option for the squad. Everyone in this group has a shot at medaling in Varna, though Barbosa, who only recently returned to training after appearing on a Brazilian dance television show, is also now dealing with an injury sustained at nationals earlier this month, so we may not see her at her full strength.
Other names to note include 2016 Olympian Teja Belak and teammate Tjasa Kysselef of Slovenia, both of whom should be in the running for medals on vault, as well as their teammate Adela Sajn, who just returned from the Summer Universiade where she placed seventh in the balance beam final. We’re also looking forward to seeing British gymnasts Charlie Fellows and Alice Kinsella, both of whom could be options for their country’s worlds team, especially now that both Downie sisters are taking the rest of the season off due to recovery from injuries.
On the men’s side, I’m most excited to see Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, who hasn’t competed internationally since Rio, but he’s been preparing, and posted a video today of the ridiculously hard high bar routine we should get to see next week! The Brazilians are also bringing an incredibly strong team, complete with Arthur Nory and Arthur Zanetti, Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine is set to compete all six events as he prepares to fight to break Kohei Uchimura’s all-around streak in Montreal, and the Slovenian team is a great one, capable of getting on several podiums in Varna.
Qualifications at the Varna challenge cup take place on Friday September 1, with finals held over the weekend. A full roster is available below.
|Francisco Barretto, Jr.
|Ahmed El Maraghy
Abdelrahman El Zamzamy
|Boudewijn de Vries
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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