The 2016 European Gymnastics Championships took place this last week in Bern, Switzerland, where Senior and Junior female athletes met up to fight for the title of best in the continent. While some countries, like the Netherlands or Germany, decided not to send their top gymnasts in order to rest them for the Rio Olympic Games starting in less than nine weeks, the competition was still quite exciting with surprising moments and unexpected results as is typical in the sport of gymnastics.
Starting with Junior qualifications on Wednesday, June 1st, which also served as a team final competition, the Russians won by over four points, finishing with 168.179, with Great Britain in second with 163.912 and Romania closely behind in third with 163.678. Despite this result, this was not a clean competition for the team of Iliankova, Eremina, Prebinosova, Zubova and Simakova. After four hit routines on bars all above 14, the Russians continued with a successful beam rotation with four more routines above 14. On floor, results were a bit lower due to difficulty scores of 5.2-5.6, but they still managed to count a 14.100 from Eremina and two mid-13s from Simakova and Perebinosova. Vault was their last and also worst event, with a fall from Simakova on her FTY and a zero from Perebinosova. Thanks to the four up three count competition format, they did not have to count this final result to their total score and were still able to win the team title. Russia was also able to qualify first into every event final, with beam princess Varvara Zubova unfortunately missing out on the beam final due to the two-per-country rule despite placing fourth with 14.166.
Second place finishers Great Britain started off on beam, with three hit routines and a fall by Taeja James that they were able to rule out. Next on floor, they were able to count three scores in the 13s, followed by a very strong and consistent vault rotation with three FTYs all scoring within a tenth of each other. Their final event, bars, was marked by a fall from Taeja James that once again did not count to their final score, allowing them to finish with the Silver medal. They were able to qualify to every event final except for vault, with Alice Kinsella present in all three of them.
Unlike their Senior teammates, the young Romanians managed to reach the podium, missing out on silver by just over two tenths. Starting on vault with two DTYs and two FTYs, they actually had the highest event score of the whole competition, though their second rotation, bars, was bound to ruin this advantage with three low difficulty routines scoring just below 13. The two remaining events, beam and floor, had all scores in the mid-13s, except for Ioana Crisan’s 14.133 on her 6.0-difficulty beam routine. The Romanians also qualified into every event final, aside from bars (unsurprisingly).
Places 4 to 8 on the team competition belonged to Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium, after some rough competition coupled with low difficulty routines. Event qualifiers were mostly from these top 8 countries, with the only exceptions being Marie Skammelsen of Denmark on vault, Polina Borzykh of Georgia on beam and Naomi Visser of the Netherlands on floor. The AA qualifiers were a bit more diverse with gymnasts from Spain, Belgium, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Hungary also assuring their presence, while the Russians Elena Eremina and Anastasia Iliankova qualified in the first two places with scores above 56.
On the Senior competition on Thursday, June 2nd, teams were aiming to qualify into the team final of Saturday as well as Event Finals, with no AA Final happening this year. Placing over six points ahead of third place and within a tenth of each other, Russia and Great Britain were definitely in a league of their own with the Brits just edging out the Russians with a score of 173.363 to Russia’s 173.261. Starting on bars, the GB girls were able to perform two hit routines by Becky Downie and Gabby Jupp as well as a low-14 score from Ruby Harrold after some form issues and hitting her feet on the floor on her Bhardwaj. Moving next to beam, they had to count a fall from Claudia Fragapane which lowered their team total, but floor saw three fantastic routines with two scores in the low-14s and one 15.000 from Frags. Finishing up on one of their best event, the Brits showed three DTYs to qualify in first place into team finals, as well as landing two gymnasts in every event final, except for beam with Becky Downie as the sole representative of Great Britain.
With two one-event specialists and Mustafina still recovering, the Russians had a tough time during qualifications. On their first event, beam, they were forced to count a fall from Seda Tutkhalyan on her layout full, while on floor, all routines scored in the mid-13s, painting a rather worrisome picture for the Russians. Their best results came on the last events, vault and bars, with three DTYs for high-14s scores, as well as, three hit bar routines. Besides placing into the team finals, Russia also qualified to every event final, except floor, with bars specialist Daria Spiridonova missing out on the uneven bars final due to the two-per-country rule.
Switzerland, Romania, Germany, France, Italy and Hungary were the remaining qualifiers into the team final, with special merit for Hungary since they were competing with just three gymnasts. Event final spots were once again mostly filled with athletes from top teams, with Belgium, Slovenia and Poland also making appearances. Besides Tutkhalyan on beam and Spiridonova on bars, other notable absences from finals were Vasiliki Milousi on beam after falling on her double pike dismount, Nina Derwael on bars after a fall on her Bhardwaj and Loan His also on bars after hitting her feet on the mat.
Following qualifications, the top 24 Junior gymnasts moved on to the All-Around Final, while the top 8 Senior teams advanced to the Team Final, with no All-Around Final for Senior gymnasts this year. The top 8 on each event and age category also qualified to the Event Finals.
Full results can be found here.