Last week, the Rusudan Sikharulidze tournament wrapped up in Batumi, Georgia. Most notably, it gave the Russian delegation a chance to practice (and show off) their routines ahead of the Russian Cup, taking place in Penza on September 16th through the 20th.
In addition, the meet also showcased those native Russians who now compete for Azerbaijan. They did well, sharing the podium with their friends and former compatriots. Marina Nekrasova won bronze in the All Around, bronze on vault, bronze on uneven bars, and bronze on floor exercise, while 2011 Russian world team member (and event finalist) Yulia Inshina won bronze on balance beam.
There were a number of delightful developments at this competition, the first being third year senior Evgenia Shelgunova’s golden performance in the All Around (with a total score 57.7) and on floor exercise. Shelgunova was the 2012 Junior European All Around silver medalist, but despite being a mostly active senior since 2013, she hasn’t been part of a senior effort at any major international competition. With ambitious difficulty values and another solid all-around performance in a couple of weeks, this might be the year she breaks that pattern. We should be rather anxious (in a good way) to see her floor exercise performance from Batumi once (and if) a video emerges. She edged out teammate Dmitrieva for the gold, and Dmitrieva is a beautiful and dynamic floor worker.
Building upon her solid showings at the European Games, first year senior Seda Tutkhalyan won the balance beam title, placed second on vault, and placed second all-around. She has certainly added some spice to the team mix. With all of the drama surrounding Coach Alexandrov’s departure, the agonizingly long return of Viktoria Komova, and questions surrounding the staying power of Russia’s veterans, the fresh and spirited Seda has emerged at just the right time.
Speaking of veterans, it appears as though Maria Paseka and Vikoria Komova did well at this meet. Though it’s still unclear whether Komova will poise herself as a specialist or an all-arounder as selection for the World Championships narrows, she delivered an excellent uneven bars routine in Batumi, posting a 15.450 according to her fan page on VK.com. And Paseka, continuing to exceed the expectations of naysayers, delivered a silver-worthy uneven bars performance and another solid Amanar, this time without the help of a bouncy podium. Her vault performance is captured on one of the few videos that has emerged thus far, thanks to Ksenia Afanasyeva.
Rounding out the senior podium picture was Anastasia Dmitrieva, who finished second on balance beam and floor exercise. Angelina Melnikova won the junior All Around title.
Hopefully we’ll have official results and more videos to share soon. In the meantime, enjoy a couple additional routines captured by Ksenia:
Article: Sara Dorrien-Christians
Photo: Russian Gymnastics Federation