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Mustafina, Komova Lead Russian Squad to Sofia
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World and Olympic medalists Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will lead a young Russian team at next month's European championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pictured: Mustafina won her fourth consecutive all-around title at last week's Russian championships.

World and Olympic medalists Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will lead a young Russian team at the European championships, May 12-18 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The team lineup was announced following the women's national championships, which ended Sunday in Penza, where Mustafina won her fourth consecutive all-around title.

Daria Spiridonova (Russia)

Komova competed three events in Penza, her first competition since the 2012 Olympic Games.

Mustafina and Komova will be joined in Sofia by first-year seniors Maria Kharenkova and Daria Spiridonova and relatively inexperienced Alla Sotnitskaya, who turns 17 on Thursday.

The newcomers earned their spots on the team by strong performances in Penza, national coach Valentina Rodionenko said. Sotnitskaya won the all-around silver, gold on vault, silver on floor exercise and bronze on uneven bars. Spiridonova won uneven bars and was second on balance beam behind Kharenkova.

Defending European floor exercise champion Ksenia Afanasyeva competed two events for her Central team in Penza, but is focused on recovering from her ankle injury in time for this fall's world championships.

"We have decided to hold Ksenia Afanasyeva, who recently had surgery on her ankle, out of the competition in Bulgaria," Rodionenko said.

2012 Olympian Anastasia Grishina, who was third all-around in Penza, suffered a major knee injury on the second day of competition. Grishina, 18, reportedly suffered a partial tear of her ACL and fractured bone near her knee.

In Sofia, the Russian team will try to regain its team title after losing to Romania at the 2012 European Championships in Brussels.

"Now each of (the gymnasts) has her own task," Rodionenko said. "The youth need to fix their routines so they will be able to fight for medals at the European championships. And the team leaders, well, they need to show their leadership."

The Russian men's championships begin Wednesday in Penza. The men's European championships take place May 19-25 in Sofia.

This year's European championships include senior competition for team and individual apparatus, and a full junior competition with team, all-around and apparatus finals.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

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