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