Oleg Verniaiev and Zsofia Kovacs
2017 European all-around silver medalist Zsofia Kovacs couldn’t be with her team at Euros in Glasgow this year due a nagging injury, but she’s determined to lead Hungary’s worlds team this year and plans on making her international return at the Challenge Cup in Szombathely.
With Euros, Asian Games, and the U.S. Championships all taking place in August, the elite world is now on a bit of a hiatus and will be for the next couple of weeks. The Szombathely Challenge Cup will be one of the first opportunities for gymnasts to come back and get their feet wet as they prepare for worlds a month later, and while the gymnasts in the Western Hemisphere will focus on the Pan American Championships, the gymnasts from Europe, Africa, and Asia will make their way to Hungary as their next stop on the way to Doha.
For the Hungarian women, newly-crowned European vault champion Boglarka Devai will join Kovacs in leading a team that also includes Nora Feher, Dorina Böczögö, Sara Peter, Noemi Makra, and Lilia Csasztvan. It’s an incredibly talented mix of athletes, and it’s a shame the worlds teams this year only allow for five gymnasts because Hungary has a great amount of depth right now with every top contender healthy and ready to contend, so choosing just five is going to be a tough decision, but this meet as well as the Hungarian Championships also coming up this month will help the federation figure it out.
Also of note here in the women’s field will be Isabela Onyshko of Canada, who won medals on beam and floor at the Guimaraes Challenge Cup in June; Dipa Karmakar of India, who shockingly missed out on the vault final at Asian Games; Jonna Adlerteg of Sweden, the European silver medalist on bars last month; Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia, who won her first challenge cup medals in Osijek and Koper this summer; and Ana Derek of Croatia, who makes her return to competition after suffering a devastating head injury while training in the spring.
We’re also excited to see several members of the Spanish and Ukrainian women’s teams, both of which performed incredibly well to make the team final at Euros. For Spain, we’ll see Cintia Rodriguez and Paula Raya alongside Nora Fernandez, who missed Euros due to injury, and Ukraine’s top gymnasts won’t be in Szombathley, but Valeriia Osipova was at her best in Glasgow last month and will join teammates Yana Fedorova and Alona Titarenko, with all three of these almost certain to make the worlds team.
On the men’s side, the biggest news is the return of Oleg Verniaiev, who is hoping to compete all six events here in Szombathely after undergoing surgery early this year to fix leg and shoulder injuries. With eight months of recovery now in the bag, we’ve seen a few training videos, but it’s always hard to know what to expect after such a long break.
Verniaiev’s teammate Petro Pakhniuk, who competed in two apparatus finals at Euros, will also compete in Szombathely on several events. For the Hungarians, David Vecsernyes, who won the high bar bronze in Glasgow, will lead his teammates Adam Babos, Krisztian Boncser, Balazs Kiss, and Ryan Sheppard here, with Botond Kardos also competing.
We’re also excited to see Jossimar Calvo of Colombia and Marios Georgiou of Cyprus competing all six events, pommel horse heroes Filip Ude and Robert Seligman of Croatia, the fierce Israeli standouts Alexander Shatilov, Artem Dolgopyat, and Andrey Medvedev, Yuri van Gelder of the Netherlands hoping to take the gold on rings, Rok Klavora on floor and Saso Bertoncelj on pommels for Slovenia, and Le Tranh Tung, who led Vietnam to a fifth-place finish in Jakarta, on floor and vault.
The Japanese, Spanish, and Romanian men’s teams will also have a lot to offer here. Japan is sending a B team, but even their B teams tend to clean up at these events, and Keisuke Asato, Kenta Chiba, and Shogo Nonomura have all been successful internationally this season, with Chiba recently winning the bronze on p-bars while Nonomura won the silver on rings at last week’s Asian Games while Asato made several finals at the Melbourne World Cup.
For Spain, Nicolau Mir is one to watch on floor, rings, and p-bars, while Ruben Lopez, Joel Plata, and Adria Vera will also be in the mix for worlds spots this year and will want to make sure they can prove themselves here. For Romania, Marian Dragulescu will make his return after a somewhat dramatic year that saw him dealing with heart problems while also battling the Romanian federation, which refused to send him to Euros. After a lackluster performance from the team in Glasgow, Romania can’t really afford to not send him to worlds, so he’ll compete floor and vault here to get ready, while Andrei Muntean will hope to medal on rings, p-bars, and high bar.
The competition will begin on September 21 in Szombathely. A full list of gymnasts expected to compete is below.
Luca la Pia
Ahmed El Maraghy
Tarek Hamdy Shalaby
|Yuri van Gelder|
|Bernardo Almeida||Rafaela Ferreira
|Slavomir Michnak||Barbora Mokosova|
Dinh Phuong Thanh
Le Thanh Tung
Nguyen Tuan Dat
Pham Phuoc Hung
Tran Dinh Vuong
|Bui Nguyen Hai Yen
Tran Doan Quynh Nam
Truong Khanh Van
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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