Top University Gymnasts Meet in Naples

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Russians Uliana Perebinosova, Lilia Akhaimova, and Tatiana Nabieva with Elisabeth Geurts of the Netherlands and Aiko Sugihara, Asuka Teramoto, and Hitomi Hatakeda of Japan

This year’s University Games, or Universiade as the competition is known throughout the world, begins tomorrow in Naples, Italy, with competition from some of the top university-aged gymnasts in the world.

Russia generally dominates the team competition at these Games, sending elite-level competitors who are often the same gymnasts we can expect to see in the mix for major international teams, but this year, Japan seems to be the team going all out, with recently-announced 2019 worlds team members Asuka Teramoto, Aiko Sugihara, and Hitomi Hatakeda capable of upsetting the reigning champs.

The Russian team is still a competitive one, however, with former worlds team members Lilia Akhaimova and Tatiana Nabieva leading the way alongside two-time junior European medalist Uliana Perebinosova. Japan is definitely the stronger of the two, especially as Teramoto is looking better than ever, and her two young teammates have been in top form at domestic meets this year, but it should still be interesting nonetheless, especially as a few other fierce teams are in the mix.

Both teams will have to fend off an incredible Italian team. With Olympians Carlotta Ferlito and Martina Rizzelli on the roster along with Olympic alternate and three-time worlds competitor Lara Mori, who is currently in third place in the world cup floor rankings going into the 2019-2020 Olympic qualification season, this team at one point would’ve been a dream team for an elite-level competition. With all three looking strong at earlier meets in 2019, they could absolutely contend with the top groups here.

Also coming in strong is Canada’s team, which features elite gymnast Jessica Dowling along with current NCAA gymnasts Denelle Pedrick of Central Michigan and Alana Fischer of Southeast Missouri. Both Dowling and Pedrick have Universiade experience under their belts, and were crucial members of the team that won silver in 2017, but this will be the international debut for Fischer, a regular in the all-around for SEMO.

I’m personally excited for Finland’s team, which features top elites Maija Leinonen and Rosanna Ojala along with Wilma Malin, Malaysia’s team will feature top senior competitors Farah Ann Abdul Hadi and Tan Ing Yueh along with relative newcomer Rachel Yeoh Li-Wen, the team from Chinese Taipei includes 2018 worlds team members Fang Ko-Ching and Wu Sing-Fen, and we’ll also see several strong individuals in the mix, like vault podium contender Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan, Valeriia Osipova and Yana Fedorova of Ukraine, Rifda Irfanaluthfi of Indonesia, Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia, and Demet Mutlu and Ekin Morova of Turkey.

Interestingly, Romania is sending Andreea Ciurusniuc as an individual, and it’ll be fun to see how it compares to the current crop of elites in the country. Ciurusniuc was once a top junior, but she kind of faded from view in the wake of Romania not qualifying a team in 2016, though she did compete at nationals in both 2017 and 2018, surprising to win the bars title last year.

Another blast from the past will be Germany’s Janine Berger, an Olympic vault finalist in 2012 who returned to regular Bundesliga competition in 2017 with a focus on vault and bars. Though she no longer has Olympic-level difficulty, she’s consistently one of the cleanest competitors around, and she often posts top scores for her first-league Ulm club.

The competition on the men’s side is also looking to be exciting, with the French and Italian programs sending fantastic teams, though the Japanese triple whammy of Kazuma Kaya alongside the Tanigawa brothers, Kakeru and Wataru, will be tough to beat. Russia will also have several strong contenders here, including Kirill Prokopev and Ivan Stretovich, and Ukraine and South Korea could also both be in the mix, but my hope for a surprise podium upset is the young Kazakh team that includes Milad Karimi, Nariman Kurbanov, and Akim Mussayev.

On the individual level, there are plenty of standouts, but some of the most notable in the eyes of gym fans are Lee Chih-Kai of Chinese Taipei coming in strong with the hopes of defending his pommel horse gold, Turkish heroes Ibrahim Colak and Ahmet Önder, who will be a bit tired after finishing the European Games this weekend but will nonetheless present a challenge, U.S. pommels phenom Stephen Nedoroscik, and fan favorite Heath Thorpe of Australia, who will be hoping to put up a huge floor routine in Naples.

The men will have the team competition (which also serves as the qualifier for the all-around and event finals) on Wednesday, July 3, and continuing on Thursday, July 4, while the first day of women’s competition will be held on Friday, July 5. The all-around finals for both the men and the women will take place on Saturday, July 6, while all ten apparatus finals will take place on Sunday, July 7.

All events will be streamed by FISU TV, and results will be available here. A full list of competitors is below.

Ivo Chiapponi
Julian Jato
Felicitas Palmou
Romina Pietrantuono
Artur Avetisyan
Hudson Irwin
Heath Thorpe
Michael Tone
Manuel Arnold
Alexander Benda
Vinzenz Höck
Ricardo Rudy
Bianca Frysak
Marlies Männersdorfer
Ivan Tikhonov Marina Nekrasova
Sviataslau Dranitski
Yahor Sharamkou
Maxime Gentges
Justin Pesesse
Felipe Arakawa
Luis Porto
Jeremy Bartholomeusz
Jake Bonnay
Damien Cachia
Jessica Dowling
Alana Fischer
Denelle Pedrick
Hsu Ping-Chien
Lee Chih-Kai
Tang Chia-Hung
Chen Feng-Chih
Fang Ko-Ching
Wu Sing-Fen
Mariangeles Murillo
Heika Del Sol Salas
Marko Jovicic
Leonardo Kusan
Ema Kajic
Neofytos Kyriakou
Tom Nicolaou
Jacob Buus
Luca La Pia
Franz Card
Joonas Kukkonen
Miro Niemi
Maija Leinonen
Wilma Malin
Rosanna Ojala
Antoine Borello
Paul Degouy
Killian Mermet
Antoine Pochon
Janine Berger
Elizabeth Chan Tsz Sum
Ng Yan Yin
Dalia Al-Salty
Rifda Irfanaluthfi
Stefano Patron
Andrea Russo
Marco Sarrugerio
Carlotta Ferlito
Lara Mori
Martina Rizzelli
Kazuma Kaya
Kakeru Tanigawa
Wataru Tanigawa
Hitomi Hatakeda
Aiko Sugihara
Asuka Teramoto
Milad Karimi
Nariman Kurbanov
Akim Mussayev
Aida Bauyrzhanova
Yekaterina Chuikina
Anastasija Dubova
Tomas Kuzmickas
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi
Tan Ing Yueh
Rachel Yeoh Li-Wen
Fabian de Luna
Joshua Valle
Elisabeth Geurts
Kirsten Polderman
Harvey Humber
Batu Yazici
Caitlin Todd
Nikolai Rønbeck Thea Nygaard
Bernardo Almeida
Guilherme Campos
Mariana Pitrez
Robert Ghiuzan
Toma Modianu-Zseder
Andreea Ciurusniuc
Aleksandr Chicherov
Viktor Kaliuzhin
Ilya Kibartas
Kirill Prokopev
Ivan Stretovich
Lilia Akhaimova
Polina Fedorova
Tatiana Nabieva
Uliana Perebinosova
Seda Tutkhalyan
Barbora Mokosova
Luka Bojanc
Luka Terbovsek
Jure Weingerl
Patricija Jug
Sara King
Martino Morosi
Marco Walter
Kim Han-sol
Lee Jung-hyo
Lee Seung-min
Goo Lae-won
Kim Chae-yeon
Yang Se-mi
Ibrahim Colak
Ahmet Önder
Ekin Morova
Demet Mutlu
Vladyslav Hryko
Vladyslav Hrynevych
Maksym Vasylenko
Eduardo Yermakov
Yana Fedorova
Valeriia Osipova
Alex Diab
Stephen Nedoroscik
Rasuljon Abdurakhimov
Khusniddin Abdusamatov
Abdulla Azimov

Article by Lauren Hopkins

10 thoughts on “Top University Gymnasts Meet in Naples

  1. Is Canada’s team being self-funded a reason Shallon wouldn’t be on the team or is she likely just focusing on bigger events?


    • It could be both? I know the priority for her is obviously worlds, but since really none of the top gymnasts who are in the eligible age range (Olsen, Onyshko, Black, both Woos, de Jong, Denommée) are participating, I’m guessing it was partly the Canadian national team’s decision to not make it a priority meet or a meet where results will count toward future selections, and so we have all of the top university-aged gymnasts skipping this and focusing on the upcoming selection camp and preparing for worlds. Dowling is elite but not national team, so I’m guessing there’s a reason no national team members went, and it probably has to do with the money aspect (I feel like there are rules in place about national team athletes not being ‘allowed’ to pay if they’re representing Team Canada…I could be wrong but I think most large NOCs have rules like this).


  2. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: No reason | The Gymternet

  3. What is the status of
    Uliana perebinisova was she originally slated for this competition? Why has she not been in contention for the major European events so far this year


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