Angelina Melnikova in training. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni

Russian team coordinator Valentina Rodionenko has spoken regarding the 2017 Russian team, reports.

Ms Rodionenko argued that the core of the 2017 Russian team will be formed of Olympians Angelina Melnikova, Seda Tutkhalian, Daria Spiridonova and Maria Paseka, first-year seniors Anastasia Ilyankova and Elena Eremina, and Lilia Akhaimova.

Maria Paseka is the oldest and most experienced gymnast of the group. The 2015 vault world champion is also a four-time Olympic medallist from two Olympic Games: she won a silver and a bronze medal in London 2012 (team and vault) and two silver medals in Rio 2016 (also on team and vault).

Angelina Melnikova, Seda Tutkhalian and Daria Spiridonova were all members of the 2016 Olympic silver-medal winning team. Spiridonova is also the 2015 European and World champion on the uneven bars.

Elena Eremina and Anastasia Ilyankova turned senior on 1 January 2017. Eremina is the 2016 junior European all around champion, while Ilyankova is the 2016 junior European uneven bars and balance beam champion, as well as, more recently, the Massilia Cup all around champion. They represent the future of Russian gymnastics.

Lilia Akhaimova, on the contrary, is an outsider. She is already nineteen and, despite having been on the national team for many years, she has never been selected to represent Russia in important international meetings. However, she is a strong floor worker, a skill Russia desperately need, and won the floor title at the 2016 Russian Cup earlier this year.

Ms Rodionenko said that the other gymnasts are behind the leading group, but that doors are open to anyone showing improvements and willing to prove themselves.

This is the plan for 2017. In 2018, they will start working on the potential gymnasts for the 2020 Olympic team.

Ms Rodionenko also gave an update on Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina. Mustafina is not currently training, but, according to Rodionenko, there is no reason why she should not try for 2020. In the meantime, she hopes Mustafina will consider coaching, as she believes she has the mental capacity for it. also recently interviewed Elena Eremina. Eremina won the junior all around competition at the Voronin Cup last December, which, she argued, was good experience for her. She had a chance to compete her upgraded routines on bars and beam, among which particularly impressive was her Nabieva’s straight Tkachev on the uneven bars.

Eremina also argued that 2016 went as planned, a highlight being the all around victory at the European Championships.

Eremina knows she will need to upgrade her routines this year, in order to compete with the older girls, and hopes everything will go well.

We hope so too!

By Talitha Ilacqua



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