Russia recaptured the senior title Saturday at the European Championships in Birmingham, where the British women claiming a historic silver over Romania. From left to right: Anna Myzdrikova, Aliya Mustafina, Ksenia Semyonova, Yekaterina Kurbatova and Tatiana Nabiyeva.
Russia recaptured the senior title Saturday at the European Championships in Birmingham, where the British women won a historic silver over Romania.
Russia, which had already won gold in the junior team and all-around competitions in Birmingham, reclaimed the title it had last won with Svetlana Khorkina in 2002.
First-year senior Aliya Mustafina served as the day's MVP, competing all four events for the highest individual total of the day.
Russia began strongly on floor exercise, where Anna Myzdrikova (stuck whip-double Arabian; triple full-back tuck; 2 1/2 punch layout barani, stag jump; double pike; 14.475), Mustafina (14.400) and Ksenia Semyonova (13.725) performed with grace. At the halfway point, the team held a .425 lead over Britain after landing three double-twisting Yurchenkos on vault, although Yekaterina Kurbatova's attempt was judged out a 1 1/2 after an incomplete twist.
On uneven bars, Yekaterina Kurbatova fought through her routine (Shaposhnikova and Shaposhnikova-half; Tkatchev-Pak; double front-1/2) for 13.800, redeeming herself after her disastrous 11.425 in qualification. Mustafina notched the second-highest bars score of the day, 14.900, for her tricky set (toe-on Shaposhnikova-half; Jaeger; Tkatchev-Pak-Stalder half; full-in). Anchor Tatiana Nabiyeva's gaffe (jumped down after coming up short on a Stalder-half) wasn't enough to rattle Russia, which clinched victory on beam with the highest event total of the day.
World and European champion Beth Tweddle led Great Britain to its first women's team medal in European championships history. The 25-year-old Tweddle took the top two marks of the day: 15.825 on uneven bars and 14.925 on floor exercise. 2008 Olympian Becky Downie ably backed up Tweddle on uneven bars (14.350) as Britain took the highest team total on the event.
The team's lowest score of the day, 12.925, came for a safe routine on balance beam from first-year senior Nicole Hibbert, who stayed on the event, which has been Britain's nemesis in the past. Downie relied on her experience to anchor the team's beam effort with 14.100.
Britain closed on floor exercise with the highest team total of the day, with world champion Tweddle closing with style (2 1/2 punch layout front full immediate sissone). The team huddled together and celebrated as her mark put Britain in second, closer in score to Russia than third-place Romania.
"We were feeling confident before the event," Downie said. "We knew we had to come in today and go clean. We're all so pleased with today. We've being working really hard on our routines in the gym and it all came together at the right time."
The competition offered valuable experience for the British, who are aiming for more historic results at the 2012 Olympics in London, Tweddle said.
"This is the first senior year for some of our team members," she said. "We have other girls too with some injuries at the moment, but there's a strong squad and this has been great preparation for worlds next year, taking us forward to the Olympics in 2012."
Romania, first in 2008, accepted the bronze after first-up Raluca Haidu scored 12.100 in the first rotation after falling twice on balance beam (flip flop tucked full; switch leap half). The young team continued unfazed, performing without any major errors for the rest of the evening. Despite Haidu's miss, Romania was second as a team on balance beam. Despite an ankle injury, Ana Porgras earned the top mark of the day (14.800), though she limped off in tears after her ff ff double pike dismount. The team was also second on vault (two double-twisting Yurchenkos and one Yurchenko 1 1/2). Romania was third on floor exercise, where it showed a great deal of promise, and uneven bars, its typical weakness.
"This competition was a sign that this new generation of gymnasts is not yet ready for this level," head coach Nicolae Forminte said. "I have a lot of faith in them; we lost a battle but not the war and will work hard to come back."
Youna Dufournet led France to fourth, 1.4 out of third place. Italy, the 2006 champions, finished fifth, followed by Switzerland (a best-ever sixth) and Netherlands. Ukraine finished eighth after a disastrous uneven bars routine (8.225) in the first rotation from Alina Fomenko, who fell on a Jaeger, collapsed on the high bar and then hit her legs on the bar to land her full-in on her face.
The competition concludes Sunday with the junior and senior apparatus finals.
Click here to download detailed scores.
External Link: Official Competition Site
2010 Women's European Championships
May 1, Birmingham, Great Britain
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