Four all-around gymnasts will lead the Russian women in defense of their team title at October's world championships in Japan, team coach Valentina Rodionenko said Monday. Pictured: Viktoria Komova on floor at the Russian Cup in Yekaterinburg
Four all-around gymnasts will lead the Russian women at October's world championships in Japan, team coach Valentina Rodionenko said Monday.
First-year seniors Yulia Belokobylskaya and Viktoria Komova will join world veterans Ksenia Afanasyeva and Anna Dementyeva as the core of the team seeking to defend Russia's world title in Tokyo. The competition takes place Oct. 7-16, and serves as the first of two qualifiers for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Tatiana Nabiyeva (vault and uneven bars) and Maria Paseka (vault and floor exercise) are expected to compete two events each, while alternates Alyona Polyan and Yulia Inshina round out the training squad.
Russian Cup champion Anna Dementyeva
Dementyeva topped Komova and Belokobylskaya for the all-around title at last week's Russian Cup competition in Yekaterinburg. Komova won titles on uneven bars and balance beam, while Afanasyeva won floor exercise.
Komova, who underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery in May to repair a bad sprain, was originally supposed to only compete two events in Yekaterinburg, Rodionenko told the RIA agency.
"Vika Komova was supposed to do two events since she's not fully recovered from injury," Rodionenko said. "But she wanted to do a watered-down routine on floor and also on vault. The events where she's fully recovered, she won. But we still have time to pull together the other two events, while still protecting her. If we can pull her together by October, then she will be No. 1 on the team."
Polyan, who won the gold medal on floor exercise at last week's University Games, is preparing beam and floor exercise. Two-time Olympian Anna Pavlova, who won vault in Yekaterinburg, was not chosen.
"We won't take someone for just one event," Rodionenko said.
Paseka, a member of Russia's gold-medal squad at the 2010 Junior Europeans in Birmingham, missed much of the past year with injury.
"This is a new name," Rodionenko said of the first-year senior. "In Yekaterinburg, she did not perform vault very well, but she has very difficult and high-level gymnastics."
World all-around champion Aliya Mustafina must sit out the competition, despite her desire for a quick comeback from April's torn ACL.
"Aliya really wanted to go to worlds — her heart and soul are literally crying, 'I can do it! I'm ready!'" she said. "But we do not want to risk costing her the Olympics, and her surgeon in Germany said that she can start real training only in December. She just thinks she's ready now. But she does not really understand what she will face. She must be protected. Sometimes it takes years for people to recover from these injuries, and she hasn't even had five months."
Rodionenko noted that Junior European champions Anastasia Grishina and Anastasia Sidorova will challenge for spots on the Olympic team come 2012.
"They're very strong reinforcements," Rodionenko said. "Grishina is at the same level as Komova, and Sidorova has three very strong events. It's a shame that they're not allowed to compete this year because of their age."
External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation