Becky and Ellie Downie
It’s been a hard road for both Downie sisters since last year’s European Championships, with Ellie undergoing several ankle surgeries after her all-around win in Cluj while older sister Becky has fought a handful of injuries that kept her out of worlds last year and then also sidelined her during training at this year’s Euros in Glasgow.
But with Great Britain in a pinch hoping to repeat a team medal at worlds in October, which could mean qualifying a full team to the Olympic Games a year before most teams will have to battle it out, the sisters are pushing to get back in fighting form and are expected to return to competition — the first big international meet since Cluj for both — at the Paris Challenge Cup later this month.
The British teams have put up some solid work despite losing all four returning 2016 Olympians to injury over the last year, and though they missed out on a medal at Euros, the ladies who stepped in did strong work to get them to fourth place. Still, without several of the veterans back with big D scores to fill out the lineups, the team wouldn’t really have a shot at a worlds medal this year, and if the Downies are in good enough shape, they could help get them a bit closer. In recent training videos, Becky has looked phenomenal on bars, and I’m excited to see where Ellie is in her recovery, as she could provide a major help for the team on beam and floor, which has held them back this year.
With the competition held in Paris, get ready to see some rowdy French fans welcome their incredible silver medal-winning Euros team home, with the entire squad — minus Lorette Charpy, who recently broke several bones in her face while training — set to compete here.
Coline Devillard, the 2017 European vault champion who finished sixth in the final this year, will compete her signature event, 2018 European floor champion Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos will compete bars and floor, Juliette Bossu will compete on bars, Marine Boyer will compete on beam and floor, and 2016 Olympian Louise Vanhille, who served as the alternate in Glasgow this year, will compete all but vault. This talented group could take home at least one medal on every event, with a frontrunner for gold on each one, so it’ll be exciting to see how they look just weeks away from worlds, where they — like Great Britain — will be eyeing a medal finish and an early qualification to Tokyo.
The other big names competing on the women’s side include Ellie Black and Brooklyn Moors for Canada, European vault champion Boglarka Devai for Hungary, European bars silver medalist Jonna Adlerteg for Sweden, Diana Varinska of Ukraine, and Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, who will hope to win her one billionth world cup vault title on this stage, though she’ll see big competition from both Devillard and Devai.
The men’s program will also be headlined by the French team, which surprised to win the bronze at Euros in August. All five members of the team — Loris Frasca, Julien Gobaux, Cyril Tommasone, Axel Augis, and Edgar Boulet — will compete here alongside Samir Aït Said, and like the women, they’re favorites for medals in several of the events.
2017 world high bar champion Tin Srbic of Croatia will be back in his first meet after missing Euros due to a last-minute injury, and he’ll be hoping to take the title here as well, but will have some strong competition from 2018 European bronze medalist David Vecsernyes as well as from Japanese phenom Hidetaka Miyachi, among others, including 2012 Olympian Sam Oldham, who has won three European silver medals on the event.
On floor, the competition should be tough with Rayderley Zapata of Spain, Jorge Vega of Guatemala, Marian Dragulescu of Romania, and Israeli gymnasts Alexander Shatilov and Artem Dolgopyat in the mix; Kohei Kameyama of Japan could lead the field on pommels, but Tommasone probably won’t want that to happen at home (and he’ll also want revenge for missing out on the final at Euros last month) and we’ll also see Saso Bertoncelj of Slovenia hoping to medal after getting the silver in Glasgow; and Ibrahim Colak of Turkey, Denis Abliazin of Russia, and Igor Radivilov of Ukraine should be the ones to watch on rings here but also expect great work from Dennis Goossens of Belgium and Ali Zahran of Egypt.
Vega, Dragulescu, and Radivilov will be several top contenders on vault with Japan’s Hidenobu Yonekura and Israel’s Andrey Medvedev also stars on this event; and I’m hoping for a Ferhat Arican win on p-bars, especially with so many of the world’s top competitors on this event not competing here, but I’m also looking forward to Marios Georgiou of Cyprus and Andrei Muntean of Romania.
Additionally, Nestor Abad of Spain will compete here on pommels, p-bars, and high bar, and he should hopefully make an impression on all three.
The competition will begin in Paris on September 27, with two days of apparatus qualifications followed by two days of finals. A full list of competitors is below.
Ahmed El Maraghy
|Samir Aït Said
Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos
|Fabian de Luna
|Bernardo Almeida||Beatriz Dias
|Saso Bertoncelj||Tjasa Kysselef|