The Baku Prepares Series starts today its 2015 schedule with the Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship in Gymnastics Disciplines.
A total of 131 gymnasts from 22 countries will compete in all five disciplines at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, where hosts Azerbaijan will be hoping to keep 2014 world championship winners Russia and Romania off the top spots in rhythmic and aerobic events.
Russia’s Yana Kudryavtseva has dominated at the last two rhythmic gymnastics world championships, taking gold in the individual all-around events in both 2014 (Izmir, Turkey) and 2013 (Kiev, Ukraine), and leading Russia to victory in the team competition in 2014. Marina Durunda (Azerbaijan) will be hoping to improve on her sixth-place result in the all-around in 2014 to present a challenge to Kudryavtseva in front of a home crowd.
Teammates Daria Avtonomova (Russia), Anastasiia Maksimova (Russia) and Maria Tolkacheva (Russia) will be hoping to match their gold medal-winning performance in the rhythmic group competition at the 2014 world championships, where Russia beat Bulgaria and Belarus by achieving an impressive 9.050 difficulty score in the 3+2 apparatus final, using balls and ribbons.
In the aerobic competition, Romania has become the team to beat in the past two seasons; winning gold in the trios, groups and mixed pairs categories at the 2014 world championships (Cancun, Mexico), and taking gold in the trio and mixed pairs at the European championships in 2013 (Arques, France). Of the gymnasts who competed in Romania’s recent medal-winning team combinations, only Maria Bianca Gorgovan and Dacian Barna will be taking part in the Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship. They will be aiming to maintain their dominance in the group category, joined by three teammates Gabriel Boscer, Lucian Savulesce and Lavinia Panaete.
Artistic – men’s
- Filip Ude (Crotia) won silver on the pommel horse at 2014 world championships
- Azerbaijan’s Petro Pakhnyuk finished 15th in the individual men’s all-around at 2014 world championships
- Alexander Shatilov (Israel) finished sixth on floor at the London 2012 Olympic Games; won gold on floor at 2013 European championships, becoming the first Israeli gymnast to win at a European championship
Artistic – women’s
- Azerbaijan has five gymnasts competing in the women’s competition
- Marina Nekrasova (Azerbaijan) placed sixth on vault at the 2014 world challenge cup (Cottbus, Germany)
- Tutya Yilmaz (Turkey) represented Turkey at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, finishing eighth on both vault and floor
- Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Germany are the three National Olympic Committees (NOCs) competing at this event
- Acrobatic gymnast Elena Velikova (Bulgaria) is the youngest competitor at the Open Joint Azerbaijan Championship – 14 years old at the time of competition
- Spain’s Vicente Lli and Sara Moreno are the ones to watch to challenge Romania for the top of the podium in mixed pairs, after finishing sixth at 2014 world championships and taking gold two years earlier at 2012 world championships (Sofia, Bulgaria)
- Total of 49 gymnasts from 13 NOCs will compete in group and individual categories
- Georgia’s Salome Pazhava, who finished 13th in the 2014 world championships will be battling to keep up with her Russian and Azerbaijani opponents for a medal in the individual competition
- Gymnasts will compete in individual and synchronised categories, both men’s and women’s
- USA’s Shaylee Dunavin placed fourth at 2014 world championships (Florida, USA), along with her then partner in synchronised trampoline, Charlotte Drury
- Silvia Saiote (Portugal) finished third at 2013 world games (Cali, Colombia), and was part of the silver medal-winning team at 2011 WC (Birmingham, UK)