Preview: Spain, Italy, Ukraine Hope to Reign in Session 9
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Four teams with Olympic hopes star in women's qualification Session 9 on Saturday as the 43nd World Gymnastics Championships continue in Tokyo.


Italy's Elisabetta Preziosa

Spain: Vault

Only 18th in 2010, The Spanish are flying high with a fresh new team and could jump back into the top eight. The Spanish show classic gymnastics with an emphasis on artistic performance. National champion Ana Maria Izurieta will need to hit four events, while Claudia Menendez can bring in big scores on floor and vault. Canadian Silvia Colussi-Pelaez, who recently began competing for Spain, is beautiful on uneven bars and floor exercise.

Hungary: Uneven Bars

American Austin Sheppard is the new Hungarian champion, thanks to citizenship via her Hungarian grandmother. The powerful Sheppard has a shot at the vault final and is strong on floor exercise as well. 2008 Olympian Dorina Boczogo is lovely and unique, especially on balance beam.

Ukraine: Balance Beam

Ukraine was devastated by losing national champion Maria Livchikova to a torn ACL in training Thursday. Livchikova, the gold medalist on floor exercise at the Ghent Challenger Cup last month, was the country's top hope for Tokyo and London. Team veterans Natalia Kononenko and Yana Demyanchuk will need to pace Ukraine to stay in the top 16.

Italy: Floor Exercise

2006 world champion Vanessa Ferrari is still going strong, and Youth Olympic bronze medalist Carlotta Ferlito and Elisabetta Preziosa both medaled on beam at this year's European championships. Spain beat Italy at a duel meet recently, setting up a rematch in this session.

Next Up in Subdivision 10: Qualification competition concludes with France competing alongside world hosts Japan and Olympic hosts Great Britain!

Follow IG Publisher Paul Ziert's live commentary from Yoyogi Stadium, broadcast simultaneously on IG's official Facebook Page and Twitter account.

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