Russia Names Olympic Teams and Individual Athletes


Angelina Melnikova

Following the conclusion of this week’s Russian Cup, the Russian federation has decided on both the women’s and men’s teams that will compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this August, and also selected the individual athletes that will round out the two additional spots for each discipline.

According to RIA News, Valentina Rodionenko selected Angelina Melnikova, who will lead the squad at her second Olympic Games after coming in as the baby of the team in Rio, alongside first-year senior and European all-around champion Viktoria Listunova, and this year’s national and Russian Cup bars champion Vladislava Urazova as three of the gymnasts who will represent Russia as members of the team in Tokyo.

Elena Gerasimova, Lilia Akhaimova, and Anastasia Iliankova were also named to compete in Tokyo, though a decision is yet to come regarding how things will play out between Akhaimova and Gerasimova for the fourth team spot.

Akhaimova finished first on vault and third on floor in the competition’s apparatus finals, while Gerasimova placed second on beam. According to Rodionenko, they still have plenty of time to determine who will be the better fit for the team. Akhaimova can add more on vault than Gerasimova can bring on her best event, but both have struggled with consistency in international competitions, so the two will have to continue to prove themselves over the next month before the team is finalized.

The gymnast who is not ultimately selected for the team will have the opportunity to compete as an individual alongside Iliankova, who was third on bars this weekend.

On the men’s side, Nikita Nagornyy, David Belyavskiy, Artur Dalaloyan, and Alexander Kartsev will fill out the team, while Vladislav Poliashov and Denis Ablyazin have been selected as the individual athletes, with Poliashov best known for his parallel bars work, while Ablyazin is a standout on rings and vault.

Reigning world champion and 2016 Olympian Nagornyy won this week’s meet in Novosibirsk, with 19-year-old Kartsev finishing closest to him, while neither Dalaloyan nor Belyavskiy competed in the all-around here, though Belyavskiy won the pommels and parallel bars titles, and Dalaloyan is still recovering from an Achilles injury and didn’t perform to the best of his ability here, though he’s expected to be closer to full-strength by the time the Games begin.

Poliashov is currently leading the apparatus world cup qualifications on parallel bars, the final results of which will be determined in Doha a couple of weeks from now. Based on the order of how individual berths are rewarded (all-around world cups, apparatus world cups, and then continental championships), if he earns and accepts this nominative world cup berth, it will open up the Euros berth to Nicola Bartolini of Italy…but I can also see the Russian federation turning down the nominative apparatus berth and preferring a second non-nominative berth so they don’t lose an individual spot should Poliashov be unable to compete for whatever reason.

That’s if the FIG would allow Russia to turn down the world cup spot and then take the continental berth, that is. This is unclear to me based on the qualification rules publicly available, so it could be that Russia is “stuck” with the nominative world cup berth, but either way, the men’s program will have six spots available to them.

No reserve athletes have been named at this point for either the women’s or men’s teams.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

22 thoughts on “Russia Names Olympic Teams and Individual Athletes

  1. I’m happy for these teams! I’ve become such a fan of Nagornyy this quad, and I’m so happy to see how well Melnikova has been and how much she’s grown throughout the quad. Can’t wait to see how they do in Tokyo!


    • Well RUS got very lucky with the World Cup AA +1 handed to them. They didn’t compete at American Cup in 2020 so they were ineligible to get that spot had the series continued this year.


      • This was changed with the 29 May 2020 version of qualification rules. Starting from that version you had to count 2 out of 3, if 3 were held, or 3 out of 4, if 4 were held. So they were still eligible despite not competing at 2020 American Cup. The pandemic situation was changing so unpredictably that they did not want to take a risk of being put into quarantine somewhere midway there or back. The Chinese had to stay for two weeks out of China, to be allowed to enter to the States. They stayed in Qatar, which is also not a normal way to travel to the competitions.


  2. There cannot be if … then … According to Chapter G Qualification Timeline, immediately after the completion of the final qualification event (which is known now to be 26 June, Doha) the FIG shall inform the National Olympic Committees of their allocated quota places. This informing shall take place simultaneously. Meaning, if Poliashow turns out winning PB spot by name, RUS NOC cannot be offered Euros spot any more, and it will be offered to ITA NOC for Bartolini at the same time as RUS spot for Poliashov. If RUS NOC declines Poliashov’s spot, nobody is going to take back Bartolini’s spot from Italy. Poliashov’s spot will be just lost for Russia and further offered to Mitchell Morgans of AUS in the course of reallocation process. There is no time to keep some spots on hold and wait for two weeks which is the deadline for NOCs to confirm acceptance of their spots. Tokyo Sports Entries nominative deadline is 5 July already. This is even less than two weeks (which is the timeframe for NOCs to confirm acceptance back to the FIG) from 26 June, so possible reallocation process could run over it even without additional delays.
    P.S. RUS federation has not decided anything yet. Those were just Valentina’s musings immediately after the RUS Cup finals. But I guess it is OK to call them federation’s decisions :). Which they can change tomorrow.


    • Thanks! I wasn’t aware that they were awarded simultaneously and thought that they would go by the order originally planned for last year…I’m glad they can’t do this!

      And yes, Russia is notorious for switching teams repeatedly, but I think this seems about as close to finalized as it’s going to get unless someone is injured!


      • The rules do not use the word simultaneously, but they say “after the final qualification event”. So nothing has been offered to the NOCs yet (even though the current standings are published on the FIG website).


        • Thanks, that’s what I thought re: no official offers going to NOCs. I assumed that’s why they’re waiting to award the continental berths even though we already know who has technically/unofficially earned these spots.


        • Yes, until Doha is not over, they do not know what to award to whom. If the results of the Chinese will play out in a manner that Poliashov earns the PB spot, then they offer the Euros spot to ITA/Bartolini. If You Hao will earn the PB spot, then RUS will be offered non-nominative Euros spot and Italy nothing.


  3. At this stage it’s pretty safe to expect at 3 or 4 falls for Russia on BB (Qual + TF). Which puts them under some pressure. That Rodionenko thinks Gerasimova is more consistent than Akhaimova adds a lot more risk to the team.
    Will the alternate get a team medal ? (like at Worlds). Can it be choosen among the specialists (with the specialist keeping its status) ?. If not so, the alternate spot will probably be either Vorona or Minaeva who would then find themselves in a better chance of a medal than any of the specialists ….


    • Unlike at Worlds, at the Olympics there is now such status/accredited delegation member as an Alternate. For the FIG/IOC the alternates do not exist. There are only “alternates”, if their federations decide to distinguish them with such nomination and restrict the pool from which they pick the replacements if needed and if the time limit rules still allow. So no, there will be only four team medals. Only for those on the startlist on the day of competition.
      You can pick your replacement from among the specialists already there, but then the specialist spot will be lost, At least when the specialist had qualified by name (Carey case). In case the specialist was given non-nominative NOC spot, I refrain from giving the final answer, as I still find the wording of the rules unambiguous and against common sense. But likely yes, that spot would also be lost.


        • Thank you ! I am pretty confident I will have gotten at least 90% of the subtilities of the whole thing by the end of the Olympics ! (I know COVID crisis didn’t help …. but it seems it requires a PHD to figure out everything correctly …)


      • As I understand it, the IOC doesn’t require countries to tell them which athletes are which until they hand in the final roster (after which no changes can be made anyway), so if someone gets injured before that, a team could switch that person with an athlete in a non-nominative spot and it wouldn’t be an issue.


        • The last version of the rules 3 March 2021 has it like this:
          G. Qualification Timeline

          5 July 2021 – Tokyo 2020 Sport Entries deadline
          “NOCs who have qualified with a team must declare the composition of the team by name. NOCs who have qualified individuals (NOC places, including those with teams as +1 or +2) must declare gymnasts by name.”

          The way I read it, you have to give 4 names for team and also individuals by name.

          H. Additional Notes

          “After the Tokyo 2020 Sport Entries deadline (5 July 2021), NOCs may integrate athletes who have obtained additional quota places in their team, but if they do so, the respective additional quota place will be definitively lost and reallocated as mentioned under the criteria “2018/2019 and 2019/2020 Individual Apparatus World Cup Series”, “2020 Individual All-Around World Cup Series”, “2020 Continental Championships” above.
          Should the NOC concerned change the team composition at a later stage, the rules for athletes’ replacement must be respected. The quota place on which the NOC renounced, cannot be recuperated.

          Should a team athlete sustain an injury between the technical meeting at the Olympic Games and the beginning of the Qualification competition at the Olympic Games only, he/she may be replaced by 1 of the 2 individual athletes qualified (with no restriction on the apparatus on which the replacing athlete may compete). The injured athlete shall in no way be authorised to participate in the Team Final.”

          It seems to say such a silly thing, that after 5 July, still like 20 days to the competition, you cannot swap in even your now named non-nominative spot holder without losing that spot. Still, you can swap with an outsider up to 24 hours before the start, provided the accreditation surrendering rules are respected.


    • I’m really surprised that they’re so into Gerasimova’s “consistency” after her Euros performance. I guess they need a good beam routine but even a hit routine from her won’t add what Lilia can do on vault. Her floor consistency internationally is worrisome but I mean, Elena’s everything is worrisome, so…


  4. I thought Russia was banned by WADA. I don’t understand it really, they can still compete on their own as independent? Bit of a damp squib if that’s the case. Chocolate fireguard.


    • Yes, they’ll be competing as “Olympic athletes from Russia” and won’t be able to hear their anthem or wear the country’s insignia. Similar to 2018 Olympics. It’s HARDLY a punishment, hahaha.


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