Sabrina Voinea, Amalia Puflea, and Amalia Ghigoarta
The 2022 European Youth Olympic Festival starts tomorrow in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, where some of the best junior gymnasts on the European continent will battle it out for all-around, team, and apparatus medals, as well as medals in a new mixed pairs category
Below, you can find everything you’ll need to follow the competition over the next few days, including who’s competing and how you can watch.
Who to Watch?
One of the top gymnasts on the roster for this competition will be Helen Kevric of Germany, who has earned gold medals or posted one or more of the top scores at every single meet since’s competed in since making her elite debut at age 11, including gold in the all-around at the DTB Pokal Team Challenge and the title on bars in Jesolo this year. Now 14, she’s consistently proving herself as one of the best young WAG competitors in Europe, and she’s my favorite for the all-around title here if all goes according to plan.
I think her toughest competition will come from the Romanians, particularly as Amalia Ghigoarta and Amalia Puflea both just scored at a similar level as the country’s seniors at last week’s Petrom Cup. Their third competitor, Sabrina Voinea, is a bit hit-or-miss with her big skills and I don’t see her as much of an all-around threat, but she should at least have a couple of strong scores to add to the team total, which the Romanians definitely have a shot at winning this year.
Meolie Jauch and Marlene Gotthardt join Kevric on Germany’s team, making them another solid team title threat, and I also wouldn’t count out France or Italy. France will see recent junior national champion Lilou Viallat leading Ambre Frotté and Lana Pondart, with Viallat another strong all-around contender, and though Italy opted to send its very top juniors to European Championships, the three who will compete here – Martina Pieratti, July Marano, and Arianna Grillo – are all more or less at the same level as the top juniors from other programs, so they definitely can’t be counted out.
The British team isn’t quite as strong as the others based on how everyone has looked so far this year, and a team featuring two of the program’s EYOF athletes – Evie Flage-Donovan and Abigail Martin – lost by over three points to France at a friendly meet last month. The addition of junior national champion Ruby Evans could help them out a bit, but based on what we’ve seen up to this point, I have Romania, France, Germany, and Italy all slightly ahead in the podium race.
The other team I’m excited to see is Switzerland, which has twins Kiara and Samira Raffin on board along with Lou-Anne Citherlet, who recently replaced Angela Pennisi. I don’t know quite how they’ll fit in with the above, but it’s a very strong group with a lot of potential. Denmark is another one that could get surprisingly interesting, especially as Natalie Jensen and Sara Jacobsen are coming off of tremendous success at Nordic Championships, where they led the team to gold. With only two scores per event counting toward the team total at EYOF, I think we might end up seeing Denmark end up ranking much higher than we’re used to.
On an individual level, keep an eye out for Keisha Lockert of Norway, and host country Slovakia also has a very strong gymnast in the mix this year, with Lucia Dobrocka making podiums at a number of smaller competitions in the spring. Others with potential at this level include Lili Czifra of Hungary, Leni Bohle of Austria, Pien van Daal of the Netherlands, Elina Grawin of Sweden, and Nazanin Teymurova of Azerbaijan, who is phenomenal on beam.
In the men’s competition, no team or individual jumps out as a clear standout, but Italy probably has the strongest balance across all three members of the team, with Riccardo Villa a very strong contender for the podium, along with Tommaso Brugnami and Davide Oppizzio. Great Britain, featuring Reuben Ward, Oakley Banks, and Danny Crouch, has also looked comparatively strong as a whole this season, but these teams aside, I think it’s going to be a crap shoot, coming down to who is capable of hitting when it counts.
Most of the strongest teams are coming in with one real standout, and then a couple of guys who score considerably lower in general, but again, with only two scores per event counting toward the total, how the top all-arounder for each team performs could end up largely deciding the team picture. I think Germany, led by Daniel Mousichidis, and Spain, led by Daniel Carrión, could be exciting in this sense, and I’m also dying to see how a few smaller program gymnasts do, especially in the case of Sebastian Sponevik for Norway. Then with France, there’s no real super strong athlete here, as I believe most of the country’s top junior men are holding on for Euros, but the team has a couple of guys with strong potential on individual apparatuses, so I suspect we could see them in a few event finals even if they’re not putting up fights for the all-around or team competitions.
As with the WAG program, Switzerland – featuring Jan Imhof, Matteo Giubellini, and Mirco Riva – has some solid potential, and then on an individual level, I’m also really interested in seeing how athletes like Amine Abaidi of the Netherlands, Nicolas Ivkic of Austria, and Luis Il-Sung Melander of Sweden look here after some successes earlier in the season.
A full list of all competitors is available by clicking on the rosters below.
|WAG Roster||MAG Roster|
When’s It Happening?
Here’s the complete schedule, along with a breakdown of who you can find in each subdivision. All times are local to Banska Bystrica (CEST), which is six hours ahead of ET.
|TUESDAY JULY 26|
|10:00 am||MAG AA/TF Subdivision 1
Luxembourg, Georgia, Iceland, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Turkey, Armenia, Romania, Croatia
|1:45 pm||MAG AA/TF Subdivision 2
Portugal, Czech Republic, Norway, Italy, Israel, Denmark, Cyprus, Spain, Germany, Finland, Greece, France
|4:45 pm||MAG AA/TF Subdivision 3
Ireland, Ukraine, Slovenia, Great Britain, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Austria, Netherlands, Slovakia, Serbia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Sweden, Switzerland
|WEDNESDAY JULY 27|
|10:00 am||WAG AA/TF Subdivision 1
Greece, Denmark, Italy, Iceland, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Finland, Romania
|12:00 pm||WAG AA/TF Subdivision 2
Serbia, Latvia, Croatia, Slovenia, Armenia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Norway, Austria, Israel
|3:00 pm||WAG AA/TF Subdivision 3
France, Ireland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Belgium, Germany, Georgia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Liechtenstein
|5:15 pm||WAG AA/TF Subdivision 4
Malta, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Hungary
|THURSDAY JULY 28|
|2:00 pm||Mixed Pairs Final|
|FRIDAY JULY 29|
|2:00 pm||Apparatus Finals – Day 1
WAG Vault, Uneven Bars
MAG Floor, Pommel Horse, Rings
|SATURDAY JULY 30|
|2:00 pm||Apparatus Finals – Day 2
WAG Balance Beam, Floor
MAG Vault, Parallel Bars, High Bar
How Can We Watch?
Article by Lauren Hopkins