After the men concluded their competition over the weekend, the women will begin qualifications at Russian Championships today, which will feature team, all-around, and apparatus finals for seniors, as well as individual events for junior-level gymnasts.
In the senior field, some of the top national team gymnasts, including the much-anticipated first-year senior Vladislava Urazova, are sitting this meet out, while a few – Angelina Melnikova, Elena Gerasimova, Yana Vorona, and Aleksandra Shchekoldina – are traveling to Tokyo this week to compete at the Friendship & Solidarity Meet. There’s also Lilia Akhaimova who will be missing out, as she tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago, and while all of her most recent tests have been negative, the team is taking precautions to make sure everyone stays healthy.
So, who to watch, then? Elena Eremina, slowly making her return from a back surgery after her world championships all-around medal in 2017, is on the roster and should be one of the stronger competitors in Penza, but it’s difficult to say who will be competing in the all-around and who will be at a hundred percent, or anywhere close to it. The competition will mark the senior debut for lovely bar worker Irina Komnova, queen Tatiana Nabieva will grace us with her presence, and Anastasia Iliankova, who was killing it on bars earlier this year before the pandemic shut everything down, will obviously be a favorite for the title on her best event.
I’ll also be following lots of the usuals, like Uliana Perebinosova, Daria Skrypnik, Varvara Zubova (who somehow just turned 18 last week), Viktoria Trykina, and Maria Kharenkova, who now represents Georgia internationally, but continues to live and train in Russia.
With nearly all of last year’s best juniors now at the senior level, and with Viktoria Listunova not competing here, this should be a really fun competition for discovering some new faces. Of the 31 on the roster, 11 have no national-level elite experience, and many of the strongest girls in this field are 2006-born, competing at the junior level for the first time.
Daria Ozhigova, the national espoir champion last year, is on the roster to compete here, as are several others who were part of that field, including fourth-place all-around finisher and vault and floor medalist Ursula Shakirova. One of the more notable names by association is Lyubov Akhaimova, Lilia’s younger sister who has competed at several youth national meets, though never at the elite level before.
Qualifications (also serving as team finals for the seniors) are underway now, and are being streamed live on the Russian federation’s Instagram, with the juniors competing at 10 am and 12:30 pm, and then the seniors at 3 pm and 5:30 pm, all times local to Penza. The junior all-around final will take place November 5 at 4 pm, with the senior all-around competition happening on November 6 at 5 pm, and then apparatus finals will be held for both over the weekend.
Article by Lauren Hopkins