The 2017 European Championships will take place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania between April 19th and April 23rd 2017.
The event comes at the beginning of the new quadrennium and marks the first time the European Championships has been held in Romania in 60 years.
The European Championships are open to all countries who are a member of the European Union of Gymnastics and so therefore contains countries who are not members of the European Union, like Russia and countries who are outside the continent of Europe, like Israel. 37 Federations will send gymnasts to the European Championship. In total 274 gymnasts are scheduled to compete, of this 168 are MAG gymnasts and 106 are WAG gymnasts.
Headlining the Championships on the women’s side will of course be the many Olympians who are scheduled to compete such as Sanne Wevers and Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands, Catalina Ponor and Larisa Iordache of Romania, Angelina Melnikova and Maria Paseka of Russia, Tabea Alt, Kim Bui, Pauline Schafer and Elisabeth Seitz of Germany and Ellie Downie, Becky Downie and Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain, among many others.
In amongst the stars of Rio are, as always at the beginning of a new quad, the future of gymnastics, some new seniors and some seniors who missed out on an Olympic berth in 2016. Of these new names, some to take note of include 2016 European Junior AA Champion, Elena Eremina of Russia who has made a splash onto the senior scene so far in 2017, taking 2nd AA at the 2017 Russian Championships and 4th AA at the recent City of Jesolo Trophy, along with 1st in the UB final. Second year senior, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France is another young gymnast to watch in Cluj. After missing out on a spot on the French team for the Rio Games, Melanie has emerged this year as one of the leaders of a very strong up and coming French team, a team that took 3rd place as a team at last years European Championships. De Jesus Dos Santos has lovely, clean and easy gymnastics, a clear natural at the sport. She took the bronze medal AA at the American Cup in March, hitting all four routines whilst others faultered, showing her ability to hit on the big stage. Whilst she may struggle to medal on a world stage, Dos Santos, with clean and hit routines should be able to contend for medals on the European stage.
It is of course, an individual Championships and so therefore there will be no team event. Each country will therefore bring four gymnasts, if they have four to send and will be looking for individual event medals. Another young gymnast who is a second year senior and youngster to watch is Great Britain’s Georgia-Mae Fenton. Fenton is perfectly suited for an individual Championships, being a strong all around gymnast but shining on the UB, she could contend for a medal on that event, with a hit routine. Of course, Fenton was scheduled to compete at last weekend’s London World Cup but was injured in the warm up and was forced to withdraw. For this reason, it is unknown whether Fenton will actually compete in Cluj, even though the injury was noted not to be serious. Fenton was supposed to replace Olympian, Amy Tinkler in Cluj, however given Fenton’s injury and Amy’s excellent performance in London which earned her the bronze medal, it will be interesting to see what British Gymnastics decide to do.
As mentioned, Fenton, should she compete will certainly contend for an UB medal. Fellow GB gymnast, defending European UB Champion and Olympian, Becky Downie will also hope to take a medal on the event after taking the top score on the UB at the recent English Championships. Along with Downie, Eremina of Russia should be in the hunt for a bars medal. Olympic UB finalist, Elisabeth Seitz of Germany should also be noted as a contender if not for a medal, at least a contender for the final along with Russian Natalia Kapitonova, a second year senior who recently took 1st place AA at the recent Russian Championships, along with 1st on the UB. A rising star and Olympian, Nina Derwael of Belgium also shines on the UB and should be watched in Cluj on this event, along with in the AA as she has a strong AA programme.
On the VT, noting that the health of Maria Paseka of Russia is not fully known, should she perform to her best ability she should contend for a medal on the event on which she is a World Champion and Olympic medalist. That prediction is made, of course with the knowledge that since the Olympic Games in 2016, Paseka has had extreme problems with her back and has been undergoing extensive treatment for back pain and has therefore had reduced training time for these Championships. Given she competes two vaults, Ellie Downie of Great Britain, with clean and well executed but rather straight forward vaults should also be noted as a contender for the VT final if not a VT medal, fresh from her AA win at the recent British Championships. Two strong vaulters from Slovenia, Tjasa Kysselef and Teja Belak who have won numerous medals on the VT on the World Challenge Cup circuit should also challenge to get into the VT final and possibly contend for a medal on the event. Along with those named, Olympian, Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary should also make an appearance in the VT final and with beautiful and clean gymnastics and an extremely impressive DTY should contend possibly for a VT medal, if not a medal somewhere at these Championships.
Of course, the medal for Kovacs could come in the AA after showing what she is capable of last year, taking 3rd AA in qualifications at the 2016 European Championships. Another possible contender for the AA podium is of course, 2015 European AA bronze medalist and 2017 British AA Champion, Ellie Downie of Great Britian who is looking strong after coming back after her first Olympic Games in Rio in August 2016. Russian standouts, Elena Eremina, Angelina Melnikova and Natalia Kapitonova of course will also be in the hunt for AA medals and their fate depends solely on their ability to hit their routines rather than the quality of their work which is, as all gymnastics fans know, world class. Having not competed since early in 2016, Larisa Iordache is slated to make her return to competition at these Championships after a tumultuous year for Romanian gymnastics which saw them fail to earn a team spot at the 2016 Olympic Games. This being a completely groundbreaking moment for Romanian gymnastics after having not just qualified but medaled as a team at every Olympic Games since 1976. Iordache, competing in front of a home crowd will presumably be hoping to perform to her absolute best and will hopefully be back to the AA form she was in when she earned the silver medal AA at the 2014 World Championships and the bronze medal AA at the 2015 World Championships.
Whilst the fitness level of Iordache is unknown, the fitness level of Tabea Alt of Germany is certainly not unknown. Coming off AA wins at both the Stuttgart World Cup and London World Cup, Alt is also one to watch in the AA and is looking extremely strong since earning the title of Olympian last Summer in Rio. Alt is an absolutely beautiful gymnast to watch and is capable of difficult routines, even stating at the London World Cup that her routines that she is performing at the moment are not her most difficult.
Tabea, also great on the BB should possbily contend for a few medals at these Championships, including a BB medal. Likewise, 2004 Olympic BB Champion, Catalina Ponor, performing in front of a home crowd will probably be hoping to grab a medal on her siganture event, after taking the gold on the BB at the Baku World Cup and silver at the Doha World Cup. The Russians, Melnikova and Eremina, like in the AA are capable of medals on the BB but it is all depending on their performances on the day. French gymnast, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos could also sneak a medal here along with French Olympian, Marine Boyer of France who is beautiful and steady on the event. Boyer showed her prowess on the event at last years European Championships where she took the silver medal on the event and also at the Olympic Games where she placed 4th in the BB finals. Iordache, of course with a solid routine and given she is back to her best could also make it to finals at least whilst Ellie Downie or Claudia Frangapane could also both make appearances in BB finals.
Of course, I must not fail to mention that Olympic BB Champion, Sanne Wevers of the Netherlands will also compete and should definitely be a contender for a medal, along with the stunning Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands and World BB bronze medalist, Pauline Schafer of Germany. Of course, there are many names on the contenders list for the BB however that is the nature of BB, there are many great BB workers and the outcome is simply unknown until the day of competition.
On FX, like the BB, there are many great gymnasts to watch and is difficult to predict the outcome. The Dutch team of course will be ones to watch for the sheer dramatics of their routines, rather than their medal aspirations. Ponor and Iordache, given they are at their usual standard should also provide dynamic and intersting routines and Ilaria Kaslin of Switzerland has a very different routine that is strange yet captivating and should not be missed. Ellie Downie and Claudia Fragapane will bring dynamic power and difficult tumbling to the floor whilst the Russian team will bring diffculty mixed with their usual Russian style and are exquisite when they hit.
A livestream of the event will be provided via Eurovision (Livestream will include podium training) : http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/ueg/.
The BBC will also be broadcasting live from Cluj on Saturday, 22nd April for the first day of event finals from 13.30 & will have a highlights show on the morning of Monday, 24th April.
A full nominative list is available here (please note that changes have already been made to this list and changes are continually being made to team rosters): http://www.clujeurogym2017.ro/en/olympic-champions-headline-cluj-europeans/
Official website: http://www.clujeurogym2017.ro/en/
Schedule for the event is as follows:
All times listed are in the time zone GMT+2. (The time local to Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
|Monday the 17th of April|
|10:00– 12:40||MAG Podium training – Subdivision 1|
|14:00 – 16:40||MAG Podium training – Subdivision 2|
|18:00– 20:40||MAG Podium training – Subdivision 3|
|Tuesday the 18th of April|
|10:00– 12:00||WAG Podium training – Subdivision 1|
|13:30 – 15:30||WAG Podium training – Subdivision 2|
|16:15 – 18:00||WAG Podium training – Subdivision 3|
|18:30 – 20:30||WAG Podium training – Subdivision 4|
|Wednesday the 19th of April|
|10:00– 12:40||MAG Qualification – Subdivision 1|
|14:00 – 16:40||MAG Qualification – Subdivision 2|
|18:00 – 20:40||MAG Qualification – Subdivision 3|
|Thursday the 20th of April|
|10:00 – 12:00||WAG Qualification – Subdivision 1|
|13:30 – 15:30||WAG Qualification – Subdivision 2|
|16:15 – 18:00||WAG Qualification – Subdivision 3|
|18:30 – 20:30||WAG Qualification – Subdivision 4|
|Friday the 21st of April|
|13:00 – 15:45||MAG All-Around – Final|
|17:30 – 19:30||WAG All-Around – Final|
|Saturday the 22nd of April|
|13:30 – 16:40||Apparatus finals – Day 1:|
|MAG – FX, PH and SR|
|WAG – VT and UB|
|Sunday the 23rd of April|
|13:30 – 16:40||Apparatus finals – Day 2:|
|MAG – VT, PB and HB|
|WAG – BB and FX|