The Challenge Cup in Paris this weekend marks the end of a long season of all-around and apparatus world cups and challenge cups, coming in at the perfect time as gymnasts are putting in final preparations for world championships, which begin in just over two weeks.
Several of those expected to be top contenders at worlds this year are set to compete in Paris, including members of the women’s Dutch, Belgian, Romanian, British, Hungarian, Swedish, and — of course — French teams.
On vault, we’ll see European champion and hometown favorite Coline Devillard take on bronze medalist Boglarka Devai of Hungary in a field that also includes such strong vaulters as European finalist Tisha Volleman of the Netherlands, world cup favorites Teja Belak and Tjasa Kysselef of Slovenia, and seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, who had a rough outing in Szombathely last weekend, but won the titles in Baku and Doha earlier this year.
The European bars champion Nina Derwael of Belgium will also contend on her event, going up against last week’s challenge cup champion Jonna Adlerteg of Sweden, who won the gold in Szombathely in her first meet back since injuring her knee at a world cup in 2016. We’ll also see the up-and-comer Georgia-Mae Fenton of Great Britain, Baku bars champion Diana Varinska of Ukraine, and Romania’s Larisa Iordache, who won the gold on this event at the challenge cup in Koper.
Iordache will also contend for medals on beam and floor, as will Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain and Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands, a medalist on both events at European Championships. The beam field also includes reigning Olympic champion Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands, though she struggled on her golden event at a domestic meet last weekend so it’ll be interesting to see if she’s able to get it back together here, as well as her sister and fellow Olympian Lieke Wevers and Olympic finalist Marine Boyer of France, who will hope to take the title in front of a home crowd.
France’s rising star Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, who won bronze medals in the all-around at this year’s American Cup and European Championships before becoming the French national champion, will also be on hand, expected to compete all events but vault. She doesn’t have a standout event the way some of these other ladies do, but with strongly balanced difficulty on all, she could end up a medalist on any of them, so she’s another to keep an eye on, as is first-year senior Lorette Charpy, who probably won’t challenge for a medal here, but has been known to put out strong work on all of her events.
The men’s field is also an exciting one, with Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine hoping to come back from a weak performance in Varna a couple of weeks ago, while we’re also excited to see his teammate Igor Radivilov, Rayderley Zapata of Spain, Tomas Gonzalez of Chile, Marian Dragulescu of Romania, Bart Deurloo and Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece, Marcel Nguyen of Germany, Artur Davtyan of Armenia, and the hometown boys set to compete at worlds, including Edgar Boulet, Axel Augis, Loris Frasca, Cyril Tommasone, Zachari Hrimeche, and Samir Ait Said, the man who literally snapped his leg in half in Rio last summer, back for his first international competition more than a year later.
A full list of competitors is below. The gymnasts will compete in qualifications all day Saturday, followed by event finals on Sunday.
|Chen Chih Yu
Hsu Ping Chien
Lee Chih Kai
|Audrys Nin Reyes||Yamilet Peña|
|Abdelrahman El Zamzamy
|Sherine El Zeiny
|Samir Ait Said
Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos
|Ahmad Abu Al Soud
Adham Al Sqour
|Ruba Al Daoud|
|Myriam El Koukho
|Boudewijn de Vries
|Slavomir Michnak||Dominika Korpova
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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