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Melissanidis Making Comeback in Osijek
(11 votes, average 4.64 out of 5)

1996 Olympic floor exercise champion Ioannis Melissandis is poised to make his comeback to international competition Friday at the FIG Challenger Cup in Osijek, Croatia. Pictured: Yann Cucherat (France)

1996 Olympic floor exercise champion Ioannis Melissandis is poised to make his comeback to international competition Friday at the FIG Challenger Cup in Osijek, Croatia.

Melissanidis, who turned 35 in February, is returning from a 10-year competitive absence. He is scheduled to compete on vault, though fans will have to wait to see if he will attempt the Yurchenko double back named after him in 2000.

Melissanidis has been contemplating a comeback for some time, with an eye on smaller competitions like the one in Osijek.

"I have never stopped being a gymnast," he told a Greek sports website in 2011. "I have never officially retired. And there is always that desire to compete. It is in the blood. Just as you need water for life, I need gymnastics."

The latest Osijek lineup consists of 165 gymnasts representing 38 nations on five continents. Most of the top European females are skipping the event due to the proximity of the women's continental championships, May 9-13 in Brussels, but several notable gymnasts will be on hand, including Argentina's Valeria Pereyra, Australia's Larrissa Miller, Canada's Christine Lee, Greece's Vasiliki Millousi, Poland's Marta Pihan-Kulesza and Switzerland's Giulia Steingruber.

Some of the top European men, however, will be taking advantage of the Osijek opportunity to warm up for their European championships, May 21-27 in Montpellier. Yann Cucherat (France), Daniel Keatings (Great Britain), Eleftherios Kosmidis (Greece), Krisztian Berki (Hungary), Alexander Shatilov (Israel), Mitja Petkovsek (Slovenia) and Nikolai Kuksenkov (Ukraine) are among the many world and European championship medalists on the roster.

The Americas are well-represented with standouts Diego Hypolito and Arthur Zanetti (Brazil), Tomas Gonzalez (Chile) and Daniel Corral (Mexico), as well as gymnasts from Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Two gymnasts from Ecuador were late additions to the competition, after the FIG requested that Osijek organizers accept their entries after the deadline.

Melissanidis is not the only gymnast returning to international competition in Osijek. Slovenia's Aljaz Pegan, who turns 38 in June, is back after a lengthy absence. 2008 U.S. champion David Sender, who rejoined the U.S. national team in February, is making his comeback after retiring in 2009.

Competition begins Friday with qualification, followed by two days of finals.

External Link: Official Website

2012 Osijek Grand Prix/FIG Challenger Cup
April 27-29, Osijek, Croatia

Women's Competitors
Merlina Galera
Valeria Pereyra
Maria Stoffel
Ailen Valente
Nikola Chung
Larrissa Miller
Katharina Fa
Elisa Hämmerle
Harumy de Freitas
Ethiene Franco
Elsabeth Black
Mikaela Gerber
Christine Lee
Tina Erceg
Ema Kajic
Stella Petran
Tijana Tkalcec
Jana Sikulova
Fadwa Mohamed Mahmoud
Silvia Colussi-Pelaez
Vasiliki Millousi
Paschalina Mitrakou
Dorina Boczogo
Luca Diveky
Laura Gombas
Emma Lunn
Valerija Grisane
Laura Svilpaite
Silje Katrine Dahlby
Tina Madeleine Larsen
Haldis Naerum
Martyna Eland
Marta Pihan-Kulesza
Teja Belak
Sasa Golob
Ivana Kamnikar
Fiona Novak
Jessica Diacci
Nadia Mülhauser
Giulia Steingruber
Maria Homolova
Viera Tranzikova
Victoria Genberg
Ida Gustafsson
Ida Rothe
Ranin Abou Faraj
Ivet Rojas
Men's Competitors
Federico Molinari
Marco Baldauf
Lukas Kranzlmüller
Alexander Leidlmair
Fabian Leimlehner
Matthias Schwab
Donna-Donny Truyens
Jimmy Verbaeys
Petrix Barbosa
Diego Hypolito
Arthur Zanetti
Scott Morgan
Jay Hugh Smith
Tomas Gonzalez
Marko Brez
Andrej Korosteljev
Tomislav Markovic
Marijo Moznik
Robert Seligman
Filip Ude
Irodotos Georgallas
Georgios Georgiou
Xenios Papaevripidou
Martin Konecny
Vladimir Novotny
Jindrich Pansky
Juan Jose Abad
Daniel Gomez
Amr Essam Mohamed Ahmed
Tarek Hamdy Hassan Shalaby
Ali Ramadan Abuole Zahran
Juho Kanerva
Petrus Laulumaa
Jarkko Pekkanen
Tomi Tuuha
Samir Ait Said
Pierre-Yves Beny
Yann Cucherat
Gael Da Silva
Danny Pinheiro-Rodrigues
Hamilton Sabot
Daniel Keatings
Ruslan Panteleymonov
Kristian Thomas
Max Whitlock
Andreas Bretschneider
Waldemar Eichorn
Philip Sorrer
Eleftherios Kosmidis
Vlasios Maras
Ioannis Melissanidis
Eleftherios Petrounias
Vasileios Tsolakidis
Krisztian Berki
Vid Hidvegi
Adam Mihok
Attila Racz
Kieran Behan
Luke Carson
Christopher O'Connor
Anthony O'Donnell
Andrew Smith
Alexander Shatilov
Alberto Busnari
Adham Alsqour
Jad Mazahreh
Vitalijs Kardasovs
Dmitrijs Trefilovs
Sascha Palgen
Daniel Corral
Jeffrey Telussa
Yuri van Gelder
Carlo van Minde
Kas van Weelden
Haakon Andreassen
Marcus Conradi
Stian Skjerahaug
Peder Ulven
Sebastian Cecot
Adam Kierzkowski
Roman Kulesza
Marek Lyszczarz
Dariusz Pisarek
Adam Rzepa
Rafael Morales-Casado
Angel Ramos
Tommy Ramos
Luis Rivera
Alexander Rodriguez
Alexis Torres
Marius Berbecar
Adrian Bucur
Andrei Muntean
Saso Bertoncelj
Alen Dimic
Rok Klavora
Aljaz Pegan
Mitja Petkovsek
Gregor Saksida
Pablo Brägger
Nils Haller
Michael Meier
Simon Nützi
Martin Argalas
Slavomir Michnak
Samuel Piasecky
Suhail Alkurdi
Amer Attar
Fadi Bahlawan
Feras Bahlawan
Nikolai Kuksenkov
Vitaly Nakonechny
Igor Radivilov
Oleg Stepko
Alexander Vorobyov
Adrian De Los Angeles
Glen Ishino
David Sender
Comments (2)add comment

Henrique said:

Ethiene Franco isn't going, but Lais Souza is
April 25, 2012
Votes: +0

Alison Clements said:

I'm absolutely thrilled that Aljaz Pegan is making a return. Always such an exciting gymnast. Good luck Aljaz!
April 26, 2012
Votes: +0

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