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Russian Cup Begins Wednesday
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The Russian Cup competition that begins Wednesday in Lobnya will determine the final 18-member Olympic training squad for men and women.

Currently 12 male and 12 female gymnasts are in contention for the Olympics in Beijing, head coach Andrei Rodionenko said. Following the six-day competition in Lobnya, nine from each squad will proceed to the training camp in the Siberian city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, where the final Olympic teams will train before departing for China.

"I am happy with how the preparation has gone for the championships," Rodionenko said. "Nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Everybody is healthy, and there aren't any compromising injuries. Everything has gone according to plan. What will happen next will unfold on the podium."

Russian Cup Schedule
Wednesday, July 2
2:30 p.m. Men's Qualification
Thursday, July 3
4 p.m. Women's Qualification
Friday, July 4
4 p.m. Men's All-Around Final
Saturday, July 5
11 a.m. Women's All-Around Final
Sunday, July 6
11 a.m. Event Finals (Russian Championships)
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2004 Olympian Anna Pavlova led a Russian sweep of the top six places at the Dutch Open held June 22 in Amsterdam. Pavlova won the all-around, followed in the rankings by Ksenia Semyonova, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Yulia Lozhechko and Svetlana Klyukina. Kristina Goryunova finished ninth, and 2007 Russian Cup champion Kristina Pravdina finished 20th.

The Russian men won the team title at the European Championships in Lausanne in May. Top contenders for the men's title in Lobnya include reigning Russian national and Russian Cup champion Sergei Khorokhordin, European all-around champion Maxim Devyatovsky and Yuri Ryazanov.

"I don't wish to praise or criticize anyone right now — the only criteria is their performance at the championships," Rodionenko said.

Team elder Nikolai Kryukov, a member of the Russian teams that won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the bronze at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, plans to do pommel horse, vault, parallel bars and high bar in Lobnya. Kryukov, the 1999 world all-around champion, finished eighth all-around at the 2007 Russian Cup.

"Unfortunately I won't do the all-around," said Kryukov, who turns 30 in November. "Because of my age and the overall difficulty needed in gymnastics I had to give up this idea."

The competition will be held at the Sports Palace in Lobnya, a suburb of Moscow. The Sports Palace offers a public webcam that may be active during the competition (see box for webcam link and competition schedule).

Pavlova on floor exercise, 2008 Dutch Open

Kramarenko on floor exercise, 2008 Dutch Open

Lozhechko on balance beam, 2008 Dutch Open

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