Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine
The Youth Olympic Games qualifier held for European gymnasts this morning sealed the field of nations set to compete at the Games in October, with Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine leading the way in the women’s competition while Iurii Busse of Russia came out on top in the men’s.
In addition to Ukraine, the WAG competitors who qualified spots for their countries today represented France, Russia, Italy, Great Britain, Hungary, Turkey, Sweden, Germany, Romania, Lithuania, Ireland, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Belarus, and Greece, while the MAG spots went to Russia, Hungary, Great Britain, Italy, Azerbaijan, France, Latvia, Ukraine, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Sweden, Serbia, Israel, Czech Republic, and Romania.
Bachynska put together the all-around performance of her career, kicking the meet off on a high note with a solid and clean bars set — normally a testy apparatus for her — to pave the way for a mistake-free day. With bars out of the way, Bachynska was able to put up solid sets on beam and floor before nearly sticking her Yurchenko 1½ to finish with a 54.299 total score, the highest in her international career and the best of the meet by over a point, which should totally give her a major confidence boost as she goes into European Championships and then the Youth Olympics.
Only one French gymnast was able to compete at the Baku qualifier after junior national champion Célia Serber withdrew, but Carolann Heduit made her country proud with a silver medal finish, earning a 53.266 with a mostly strong day, taking advantage of her super high difficulty to post some of the top scores of the meet on each event. It was a huge deal for Heduit, who sometimes struggles with consistency, especially in this field up against some tough competitors.
The bronze medalist, Daria Belousova, was also a surprise, performing lovely work on bars and floor to finish on the podium ahead of her teammate, who was the favorite to win the meet. Belousova handled this qualifier with a quiet confidence and poise, posting a 53.066 to secure Russia’s spot.
Unfortunately, both of the Italians had falls on beam, limiting their overall scores and keeping them from the podiums, but Asia D’Amato in fourth place was able to get the qualifying spot to the Games with a 52.832 and Elisa Iorio wasn’t far behind, finishing fifth with a 51.731. D’Amato looked improved on floor in addition to making it through bars and nailing her DTY for a 14.666, and Iorio wasn’t at her best on bars, but she also looked solid on floor while bringing her DTY back to competition, and it was a good one, which should make her a bit more competitive than she has been so far this year.
Rounding out the top eight were Amelie Morgan of Great Britain in sixth with a 51.433, Ksenia Klimenko in seventh with a 50.998, and Csenge Bacskay of Hungary in eighth with a 50.966. Morgan made it through both bars and beam with no major issues, but wasn’t tight on floor, leading to a lower-than-usual score there, though she finished her day in a good place with a solid FTY on vault. Klimenko looked ready to take the title with excellent work on bars and floor, but three falls on beam gave her just a 9.700 for that event, holding her several points back from the podium (though I’m sure she’ll still be Russia’s preferred choice for the Games come autumn), and Bacskay showed her usual fantastic sets on vault and floor to finish strong.
Hungary liked reminding us that they’re absolutely in the mix for the junior competition at Euros this summer, with Bianka Schermann also performing well today to finish ninth with a 50.466, and Phoebe Jakubczyk of Great Britain had a fall on beam, but proved here that she will likely join Morgan on the Euros team in Glasgow this summer, though Morgan will likely be the one to snag the YOG spot.
I was thrilled to see Nazli Savranbasi of Turkey come in strong for a solid 11th place finish, earning a 49.365 with strong work on vault and floor, and Tonya Paulsson of Sweden, who hasn’t been at top strength over the past year due to injury, came out for her first international meet of the season and crushed it, finishing 12th with a 48.899, one of the stronger meets I’ve seen from her with an especially fab performance on bars.
With both Emelie Petz and Sidney Hayn missing this meet, it was up to Lisa Zimmerman to qualify for Germany, and though she’s not as strong as the other two, she got the job done, finishing 13th with a 48.865. For Romania, Ana-Maria Puiu qualified in 14th with a 48.632, actually looking mostly solid on bars and showing decent floor work, though she had a huge wobble on beam to hold her score back quite a bit there.
Two big surprises were Egle Stalinkeviciute of Lithuania and Emma Slevin of Ireland. I saw most of Stalinkeviciute’s performance, and while she doesn’t have the most difficulty, she is super clean at what she does, with her beam my favorite of hers, though she also scored well on bars and floor to finish 15th with a 48.632, a superb score for a Lithuanian gymnast. Slevin, meanwhile, made history for Ireland, getting them to the Games with a 48.366 to finish 16th.
Others who earned their nations’ qualifying spots were Alba Petisco of Spain in 17th with a 47.498, Ada Hautala of Finland in 19th with a 47.200, Beatriz Cardoso of Portugal in 21st with a 46.732, Aliaksandra Varabyova of Belarus in 22nd with a 46.232, and Elvira Katsali of Greece in 23rd with a 46.000.
I was quite sad to see Norwegian junior champion Mari Kanter miss out on a spot by just one place in the rankings; she unfortunately had a rough beam set here and finished far shy of her potential, which is a bummer, as Norway has really been stepping it up internationally as of late, though they still tend to struggle under the pressure of large competitions. Also missing out were Israel, Azerbaijan (though kudos to them for sending an actual Azeri gymnast instead of the usual Russian transplants!), Iceland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Denmark, and Latvia.
In the men’s competition, the Russians topped the field as the only two gymnasts to break an 80, with Iurii Busse — who stepped in as a last-minute replacement — winning the gold with an 80.731 while Sergei Naidin won the silver with an 80.297. Both were strong across the board, with Busse the only gymnast to get a 13 or higher on every event, though Naidin came close, and showed especially great work on pommel horse, where he posted a 13.866 to top the field.
In third with the bronze was Krisztian Balazs of Hungary, who earned a 79.332 after a strong day on nearly every event, with his best work coming on floor and high bar. His teammate, Krisztofer Meszaros, also had a top-eight finish here, placing eighth with a 76.898 after a great pommels set, and the Italians showed capable, competitive routines, with Lay Giannini finishing sixth with a 78.531 while Yumin Abbadini was just behind him, in sixth with a 78.465 (both were standouts on floor and p-bars, while Giannini also put up a strong score on vault and Abbadini showed one of the better high bar sets of the day).
Though the British men looked likely to top the podium here, both ended up making mistakes. Adam Tobin still had a fairly good day, finishing fourth just a few tenths shy of the podium with a 78.931 after putting up the best rings set of the meet, though Jake Jarman finished far below his potential, landing in 14th with a 75.198 after mistakes nearly everywhere but vault.
Another call-out goes to Samad Mammaldi, a hometown boy from Azerbaijan who thrilled the crowd with his seventh-place finish, earning a 77.931 after a stunning couple of routines on floor, pommels, and p-bars. Also of note were French gymnasts Julien Marechal and Leo Saladino, who finished ninth and tenth with scores of 75.764 and 75.697, respectively (Marechal had a strong p-bars set while Saladino was great on rings and vault); Olegs Ivanovs of Latvia, 11th with a 75.532 thanks to a solid vault; Nazar Chepurnyi of Ukraine, 12th with a 75.464 after struggling on p-bars and high bar, though he made up for it with strong work on floor; and Ward Claeys of Belgium, 13th with a 75.299, showing pommels as his strongest event.
The other gymnasts to qualify men’s spots were Daniel Schwed of Germany in 15th with a 74.31, Jacob Karlsen of Norway in 16th with a 74.532, Bora Tarhan of Turkey in 17th with a 74.498, Marcus Stenberg of Sweden in 20th with a 74.131, Vlada Rakovic of Serbia in 22nd with a 73.664, Uri Zeiadel of Israel in 23rd with a 73.265, Ondrej Kalny of Czech Republic in 24th with a 72.332, and Gabriel Burtanete of Romania in 25th with a 72.131. Countries missing out on the men’s side were Poland, Portugal, Spain, Belarus, Bulgaria, Greece, Iceland, Cyprus, Georgia, Lithuania, Finland, and Austria.
A full list of qualifying nations for the men’s and women’s competition at the Youth Olympic Games is below.
|Men’s Qualifiers||Women’s Qualifiers|
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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