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Russian Team Ready for More in Marseille
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Three members of Russia's first world champion team are in France to compete in this weekend's international tournament in Marseille. Left to right: Coaches Marina Nazarova and Vera Kiryashova, Tatiana Nabiyeva, Ksenia Semyonova and Ksenia Afanasyeva.

Fresh off their success at last month's world championships, three members of Russia's first world champion team are in Marseille to compete in this weekend's international tournament.

Ksenia Afanasyeva, Tatiana Nabiyeva and Ksenia Semyonova headline the 21st Elite Gym Massilia, which features 23 teams representing 11 countries. Russia is confident it will pull off another win in Marseille, despite nagging injuries to Afanasyeva (knee) and Semyonova (hamstring).

"Yes, that's what we are here for," coach Vera Kiryashova told IG. "Although we have some minor injures, we will fight and tough it out for the meet."

The talkative Nabiyeva was enthusiastic about competing again in France, where she won the 2008 Junior Europeans in the city of Clermont-Ferrand.

"I love the French! I've been in France nine times, and I feel like I need to do well for the French audience!" Nabiyeva said.

In Rotterdam, Russia fought back after a disastrous performance on uneven bars, where Nabiyeva fell twice and Anna Dementyeva fell as well. But anchored by the unflappable Aliya Mustafina, Russia rebounded to eclipse the U.S. by .2. Semyonova on balance beam and Afanasyeva on floor exercise both delivered clutch performances to give the Russian women their first world team title.

"[We felt] amazing," Nabiyeva said. "At first we could not believe it, it didn't feel real!"

The team dedicated their victory to late teammate Yuri Ryazanov, who was killed in a car accident exactly one year before.

"We had extra motivation because we wanted it for Yuri too," Nabiyeva said.

The Elite Gym Massilia — called the Trophy Massilia and Marseille Gym Cup in previous editions — debuted in 1989. After the 20th edition in 2008, no competition was held in 2009. The event has returned this year with a new name and new organizers.

The competition includes Masters and Open sessions on Friday, and event finals on Saturday. Two-time Olympian Ludivine Furnon headlines a gala on Sunday. Both sessions feature up-and-coming international gymnasts, including Australia's Natalia Joura (younger sister of 2008 Olympian Dasha Joura), Ukrainian-born Natalia Zolotaryova (France), Romanian junior (Level IV) champion Irina Paun, and Sara Catanzaro (Switzerland).

The open session includes several club teams, as well as a unique mixed team of Georgia Simpson (Australia) and Julia Rumbutis (Sweden). Simpson trains alongside new floor exercise world champion Lauren Mitchell, while Rumbutis is the daughter of former Soviet national team member Sergei Rumbutis. Before moving to Sweden, Rumbutis represented Lithuania, and performed a triple front off high bar at the 1992 Worlds in Paris.

Though Russia has the edge in the team competition, the gymnasts plan to compete at full intensity despite their injuries.

"We will fight like we did at worlds," Kiryashova said.

External Link: Official Website

2010 Elite Gym Massilia
Nov. 11-12, Marseille

Masters Session
Georgia-Rose Brown
Nikki Chung
Natalia Joura
Terri Grand'ry
Antje Van De Velde
Eline Vandersteen
Mira Boumejmajen
Aurelie Malaussena
Eva Maurin
Cagla Akyol
Nadine Jabosch
Isabelel Marquard
The Netherlands
Dianne Teunisse
Lisa Van De Burg
Ioana Badea
Irina Paun
Maria Rauta
Ksenia Afanasyeva
Tatiana Nabiyeva
Ksenia Semyonova
Caterina Barloggio
Sara Catanzaro
Nadia Muelhauser
Open Session
Alexandra Eade
Tierra Exum
Laura Hingston
Johanna Dejardin
Lisa Verschueren
Laura Waem
Brianna Clark
Ivy Lu
France Junior
Anne Kuhm
Doriane Thobie
Natalia Zolotaryova
Oceane Grigny
Elodie Perez
Marine Rozkza
Manon Gouel
Maissane Naji
Pôle Espoir Dijon
Clara Chambellant
Claire Martin
Julie Roemer
Sarah Baouab
Helene Caron
Myriam El Koukho
Pauline Delbecq
Valentine Pikul
Oceane Seggio
Pôle France Marseille
Manon Cormoreche
Julie Pennachio
Valentine Sabatou
Mixed Pôle Espoir Paca Marseille/Toulon
Sarah Gusmaroli
Wendy Lejoyeux
Amelie Pauffert
Alizee Quiroga-Duffard
Netherlands Junior
Tessa Gerrits
Maartje Ruikes
Noel van Klaveren
Victoria Genberg
Ida Johnson
Lina Sjoberg
Mixed Australia-Sweden
Georgia Simpson
Julia Rumbutis
USA/Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy
Emily Barrett
Katie Brown
Reagan Hemry
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