Photos by Myriam Cawston
The 2016 European junior and senior championships take place in Bern Switzerland, with the women’s events beginning on Wednesday 1st of June with the junior qualifying event, and concluding Sunday 5th of June with junior and senior apparatus finals.
For the seniors, European championships are held every year, with the format alternating. For 2016, there is a team event and apparatus finals, no AA final.
For information about the senior team, see here:
*Please note that Gabby Jupp has been brought into the team to replace Becky Tunney, both gymnasts have fought so hard to make it back to the top, and both deserve every success. Huge congratulations to Gabby, and here’s hoping to see Becky back at full strength as soon as possible.
Qualification: Thursday June 2nd 16:30 UK time
The senior women begin their competition on Thursday 2nd of June with qualification for team and apparatus finals. Competing in the fourth of four subdivisions, the GB ladies begin on bars, main rivals Russia will begin on beam in the same subdivision.
Our standing at European level means there would have to be an absolute catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen from the British team in order not to qualify, so lets assume qualification will happen, and move on to the team final.
Team final: Saturday June 4th 16:00 UK time
The format for the team final is 5,3,3, the same as World Championships and Olympics Games. Three gymnasts up on each piece, with all three scores counting. Looking at the teams involved, with Romania heavily depleted by the loss of Larissa Iordache and Diana Bulimar, it is most likely that the title will be between reigning European bronze medalists Russia, and reigning European team silver medalists Great Britain.
Both teams are changed from when they last met back in October at the World Championship team final. Great Britain will bring a really strong bars line up with Gabby Jupp added to the team, but will lose ground on floor and vault with the absence of Amy Tinkler who would normally compete on both pieces in a team final bringing in high scores.
Russia at the latest update are without world vault champion Maria Paseka, and joint world bars champion Viktoria Komova. However, Aliya Mustafina makes her return, joined by reigning junior European AA champion, and recently crowned Russian senior AA champion Angelina Melnikova, 2015 world floor silver medalist, and reigning European gold medalist on floor Ksenia Afanaseva, 2015 joint world champion and reigning European champion on bars Daria Spiridonova, and world championship beam finalist Seda Tutkhalyan. An impressive lineup.
On paper Russia will come in stronger, but they came in stronger on paper to the Glasgow team final, and were unable to hit placing 4th to Great Britain’s bronze medal.
It is likely that both teams will have three double twisting Yurchenkos on vault, Afanasyeva has used the Amanar in the past, but not yet this year. We await the first British Amanar of course, the wait may end at this championships, we may wait a little longer. On paper so far this year, the GB ladies top the Russian’s on vault scores for double twisting Yurchenkos even missing Amy’s 15 + score.
On bars, as strong as our line up will be, and Becky Downie, Ruby Harrold, and Gabby Jupp is a great bars line up, Russia is simply the best team in the world on this piece. Despite leaving a world champion at home, they will field the Reigning Olympic, European, and world champion on this piece, as well as most likely Melnikova. All have scored over 15 this year.
Beam as ever will be a question of who can hit, but the line up of Ellie Downie, Becky Downie, and Claudia Fragapane has the potential to score big here. 14.900, 14.800, 14.750 the top scores from our beam line up in 2016. Russia have two over fifteen and one mid fourteen, but none internationally. Total the highest scores from the likely line ups, and Russia edge it by 0.55. That’s with everyone on both teams hitting to their absolute best though. In a team final situation under the same set of judges, it’s a question of who can hold their nerve and do exactly what they do in training.
On floor, Tutkhalyan scored 15 at Russian nationals, and Melnikova a 15.2 so two big routines that will score well in international competition, looking at their international scores from this year, both scored mid 14’s but I haven’t compared footage. Afanaseva is and always has been always beautiful on floor, and can always be relied upon to bring her best to competition, the multiple world and European medalist on this piece is always one of my personal favorites. The British team will likely loose a little ground here, but can still bring in good scores, especially through Claudia who is the reigning European silver medalist.
So yes, on paper Russia have it, but as we see so many times that doesn’t necessarily dictate the outcome.
Apparatus finals: Sunday 5th June 10:00am UK time
Five of the 2015 European vault finalists return this year, with Ellie Downie, and Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland also world championship finalists from Glasgow. It’s likely that both Ellie and Claudia will be going for two vaults in qualification and trying to make the final. Giulia comes in to the Championships with the highest average on vault so far this year with 15.134, thanks mostly to her huge Rudi first vault. She has also been training a double twist to upgrade from the one and a half which we may see. Ellie has the second highest average with 14.850, then two of the Russian Gymnasts Tutkhalyan and Melnikova have both scored just below that. Will reigning European junior vault champion Ellie bring home Britain’s first ever European vault medal? I certainly think so.
At major competitions over the last few years, Bars has turned into the most stacked final of all, and therefore of course the most difficult to medal in. This year should be no exception. Becky Downie has taken gold and silver in the previous two championships, and will go into the the competition with the highest start value of 6.9 should she hit everything in her routine. So far this year she has made the 6.4 routine, then went for the for the 6.9 but not quite made it yet. To take the title, she will need to.
Russia with it’s Olympic, world, and European champions will push hard for the medals, Spiridonova has competed a 6.6 D score and scored 15.65 internationally, and Mustafina a 6.4 this year, Mustafina can go higher. Both will be incredibly clean such is the trademark of Russian bars.
Germany have two great bar workers in Elizabeth Seitz and Kim Bui, Elizabeth has gone over 15 this year and has a 6.4 D score. Loan His of France could also push for the final and score well.
Ruby and Gabby will also be fighting to make the final, Ruby’s new routine is from a 6.6 when she hits everything, so the world championships finalist will also be right in the mix. Gabby is the British champion on bars, she has a 6.2 D score, and works very cleanly. The battle of the Brits for the top two places on bars should be an interesting one.
Ahhh beam, the final the no one can ever predict. In short, anyone that can get into the final has a chance, and as with most finals, anyone that can score over 14 has a good chance of a medal should things go as they usually do. We may however be treated to a great final where everyone hits, if that is the case, there are some great routines to look forward to. For the Brits, it will probably be Becky, Ellie, and Claudia fighting each other for a place in the final. Claudia I believe has the second highest D score in the world so far this year with a 6.8, not hard to believe with the difficulty she has shown. Ellie and Becky aren’t quite as high D score wise, but have been cleaner and scored higher. All have been close in score though, so all to fight for in qualification.
Beam queen Catalina Ponor of Romania is an incredibly experienced and decorated beam worker, she will be hard to beat, and rarely makes an error. Both Tutkhalyan and Melnikova scored over 15 at Russian nationals, and mid-high 14’s internationally. Italy’s Enus Mariani is beautiful on beam, and can score very well, Belgium have Gaelle Mys who could also make the final.
It will be exciting and nerve jangling as ever I’m sure!
Floor will be an interesting final, there are several gymnasts all around the same score that could take medals. For the Brits, Ellie and Claudia will be looking to make the final, they go into Europeans with 2016 scores of 14.525, and 14.70 respectively. Giulia Steingruber has been going very well on floor this year, with a 14.733 international score, as has Catalina Ponor with 14.600, and Enus Mariani with 14.500. For the Russians it will be a question of which two make the final, and that will depend on who competes floor in qualifications. Mustafina hasn’t yet competed floor this year, so perhaps it will be Afanasyeva who has scored 14.5, Tutkhalyan 15.0, and Melnikova 15.2. I will mention again that these scores were at Russian nationals, and although Afanasyeva is well capable of more than a mid 14, a 15 at her best, both Tutkhalyan and Melnikova have scored more around the mid 14’s internationally for hit routines so it will be interesting to see whether there is more generous marking at Russian nationals, or whether both girls have upped either their D or E scores since then.
No qualifications coverage, there has been periscope coverage available so far, so keep an eye on the twitter feed as I will link to it. Hopefully video will pop up online after the competition as it often does, and of course I will post all scores and results from qualification.
Finals will be covered by the BBC as follows:
Saturday 4th June: 16:00 – 17:50 Team live on Red Button and BBC online.
Sunday 5th June: 10:00 – 12:00 Apparatus Finals live on Red Button and BBC online
Sunday 5th June: 16:00 – 18:00 Highlights BBC2.This should include some coverage of the juniors.
Good luck to all gymnasts and coaches, here’s to a great competition!