Articles by "EC Sofia 2014"
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Photo by Silvia Vatteroni
Russia’s Maria Kharenkova beat the reigning European beam champion Larisa Iordache of Romania yesterday during the European championships’event final.

Kharenkova who is having her first major international competition as a senior, scored a 14.933 beating Iordache by 0.133.

Her teammate and the reigning World champion on the event, Aliya Mustafina settled for a bronze medal with a score of 14.733.

“I am extremely happy that Maria Kharenkova took the gold on beam. The competition was not easy for me because of my leg injury, but I tried to pull myself together because I know my younger teammates are watching me and I shouldn`t show any weakness” said Aliya Mustafinawho is the oldest and only experienced gymnast on the Russian team.

Now that the competition has ended, Aliya is going to have her ankle re-examined in Germany.

“To tell you the truth I am too excited to tell you what is happening right now. As for Aliya she is our sister, our world star, our coach and even our mother, she is all for us. We are all very happy” said Kharenkova.

“I am sorry that I didn`t get the gold on the beam and I will do my best to prove what I can do at the World Championships in China later on this year” said the silver medalist Larisa Iordache.

British Rebecca Downie who won gold on uneven bars, finished in 4th place with score 14.366. Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari and Poland’s Marta Pihan Kulesza came in 5th and 6th place respectively.

Calire Martin of France produced a nice routine but had a fall on her dismount. She finished in 7th place. While Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland finished last.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari won yesterday her first European title in seven years. The 23 year old gymnast shared her gold medal on floor with Romania’s Larisa Iordache .

“I was not happy with what I did in the beam final and I tried to take my last chance on floor. I felt very tired from the team final yesterday. It was a long wait in the floor final, because I had to perform second to the last. Now I am really happy that I won this medal in my mother`s country!.” said Ferrari whose mother is Bulgarian.

Ferrari’s last European title was also on floor exercise in 2007. Last year, she won a silver medal on the event at Worlds.

Swiss Giulia Steingruber won the bronze medal, her first in a non vault final. 2013 European floor bronze medalist Diana Bulimar of Romania tied Polish Marta Pihan Kulesza in 4th place with score 14.400.

Whereas Alla Sosnitskaya of Russia, Roxana Popa of Spain and Claudia Fragapane finished 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Photo via VK
Today, Anna Pavlova made history for her newly adopted country ‘ Azerbaijan’ by becoming the first Azerbaijani woman to win a medal at European women’s artistic gymnastics.

Pavlova won a silver medal on vault with a double twisting Yurchenko (5.8) and a stuck cold Podkopayeva (5.6)  and scored a 14.583.

That silver medal is Pavlova’s seventh at European championships.

“I was very nervous whether I will do well in my first European Championships competing for Azerbaijan. I am very happy that I managed to win the first medal for my new country. They are helping me to stay in the international circuit – I am helping them to win medals” said Anna Pavlova.

The Russian native moved to Azerbaijan gymnastics after being left on the sidelines in her native country’s gymnastics for over five years.

Pavlova who is 26 years old, is the winner of the Olympic bronze medal on vault in 2004.

Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber proved once again, she is the best European vaulter nowadays by defending her European title.

Giulia performed a Rudi (6.2) and a simple full twisting Yurchenko (5.0), she received a score of 14.666.

Romania’s Larisa Iordache who was the 2013 European silver medalist on the apparatus, took home bronze.

Newcomer Alla Sosnitskaya of Russia finished fourth.  Alla would have won the gold medal, had she not landed on the corridor line which resulted in a 0.3 penalty.  Her score would have been a 14.749 which was enough to out score Steingruber.

Germany’s Janine Berger had a low chest landing on her Rudi and had a step out of the corridor line. She also had a big step to the back on her full twisting Tsukahara.  As a result, she finished 5th.

Great Britain Claudia Fragapane who is having her first major international competition, came in 6th place. 2011 European uneven bars bronze medalist kim Bui of Germany and Hungary’s Noémi Makra who competed two simple vaults, finished in 7th and 8th place respectively.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
After struggling with disappointments in the past few years, British gymnast Rebecca Downie got her redemption by winning the gold medal on uneven bars today in Sofia, beating Olympic and European bars champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia.

“Every final I have missed out [on a medal] has made it harder to pick myself up and keep coming back but moments like today prove it was all worth it.” Downie told BBC.

The British gymnast failed to make her second Olympic team in 2012. Last year, she fell on bars during the Europeans’ and Worlds’ event final.

Downie’s medal is her first gold at a major international competition.

The 22 year old gymnast is the first British female gymnast other than Beth Tweddle to win a European title.

Downie’s teammate Rebecca Tunney missed out on  medal by only 0.033 points. Tunney who had her first individual European final in Sofia, lost to first year senior Daria Spiridonova of Russia.

Sophie Scheder of Germany finished in 5th place with score 14.733. Larisa Iordache who is the first Romanian gymnast to make the uneven bars final at a European championship since Steliana Nistor in 2008, placed 6th.

With score of 14.400, Kim Bui of Germany came in 7th place, while Spain’s Roxana Popa finished last with score 14.266.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Due to a rule that states, only two gymnasts per country are allowed to make each final, Russia’s Anna Rodionova and Britain’s Ruby Harrold will not be in the uneven bars final despite coming in the first 8 positions.

Rodionova’s teammates Aliya Mustafina and Daria Spiridonova outscored her. Mustafina and Spiridonova  scored 15.100 and 14.900 respectively, while Rodionova scored  14.866, just missing out on final by only 0.034.

Britian’s Rebecca Downie and Rebecca Tunney who secured first and 3rd place respectively topped Harrold’s score.

Romania’s Larisa Iordache made the apparatus final despite being her weakest event.

Germany had two gymnasts qualified to the finalSophie Scheder and Kim Bui. In last place, came Roxana Popa of Spain.

Sweden Jonna Adlerteg who won the bars silver medal at last year’s European championships, failed to qualify and finished in 11th place.


Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

With a score of 14.366 on floor exercise, Romania’s Diana Bulimar made her only individual final in Sofia.

Bulimar came in 5th place behind her teammate Larisa Iordache (1st place), Britain’s Claudia Fargapane (2nd), Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber (3rd place) and Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari (4th place).

At last year’s European championships, Diana secured herself a bronze on the apparatus.

Marta Pihan Kulesza of Poland, Alla Sostnitskaya of Russia and Roxana Popa of Spain qualified in 6th, 7th and 8th place respectively.

Full standing

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid

Today, the Romanian team has successfully defended their title. Their victory has been marked as their 7th European title.

The Romanians beat the British who came in second place, by over two points, while the Russians settled for a bronze medal after costly mistakes.

The Romanian team had the highest scores on vault, balance beam and floor exercise. where as the British topped every team on uneven bars.

Britain’s previous medal in the event, came in 2010 when the team won a silver medal.

The Italian, German, Spain and Belgium claimed 4th, 5th,6th and 7th respectively.

Whereas Switzerland finished last.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

Fans were rooting for Great Britain to make the podium with a 3rd place at the team final in Sofia, but the stunning performance they delivered in qualification, is definitely lifting up our expectations.

The five-strong squad topped the standings with 172.147 points, ahead of the A listed teams Romania and Russia with more than a full point.

Hence, Britain will go as one of the favorites for the 1st podium place and if they succeed, this will be the first time for a British team in women’s gymnastics to claim the gold medal at one of the top three major international competitions (European championships, World championships and Olympic Games)

It will also be the second time for a team that is not Romanian or Russian, to win the team title at a European championships. The first time was in 2006 when Italy outscored Romania.

The women’s British team was the winner of the silver medal at 2010 European championships.

Individually, veteran Rebecca Downie qualified to uneven bars final in first place and to balance beam final in 5th place.

Claudia Fragapane, who turned senior this year, delivered a stunning performance and managed to qualify to vault and floor exercise final.

2012 Olympian Rebecca Tunney qualified in 3rd place behind reigning European bars champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia and her teammate Rebecca Downie.

2013 World finalist Ruby Harrold fell victim to the two per country rule and won’t be in uneven bars finals despite finishing in 7th place.

Romania and Russia came behind Great Britain in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

Qualified teams:
1-Great Britain 172.147
2-Romania 171.130
3-Russia 170.621
4-Italy 166.928
5-Germany 166.695
6-Switzerland 163.663
7-Belgium 162.630
8-Spain 162.271

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Veteran Anna Pavlova who moved to Azerbaijani gymnastics in late 2013, managed to qualify  to the vault final at the 30th European artistic gymnastics championships.

The Russian native delivered a double twisting Yurchenko (5.8) and a round off half on half off  (5.6). She scored a 14.516 putting her in second place behind the reigning European champion Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland who performed a Rudi (6.2) and a full twisting Yurchenko (5.0).

Representing Russia, Pavlova is the winner of the 2004 Olympic bronze medal and the 2004 and 2005 European silver medal on vault

British debutante Claudia Fragapane qualified in 3rd place with 14.462. 2013 European vault silver medalist Larisa Iordache came in 4th place with score 14.450.

Olympic vault finalist Janine Berger of Germany who is having her first European championship experience, placed 5th with a full twisting Tsukahara (5.2) and a Rudi (6.2).

Russia’s Alla Sosnitskaya, Hungary’s Noemi Marka and Germany’s Kim Bui came in 6th, 7th and 8th position respectively.


Written by Gigi Khazback Farid surprise here. The reigning European balance beam champion Larisa Iordache of Romania and debutante Maria Kharenkova of Russia topped the balance beam standing in Sofia.

Marta Pihan-Kulesza of Poland managed to qualify in 3rd place with score 14.400.

The reigning World balance beam champion Aliya Mustafina came in 4th position. Mustafina previously won a silver medal on the apparatus at 2010 European championships.

Britain’s Rebecca Downie, Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, France’s Claire Martin and Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber qualified in 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th place respectively.

Full standing

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
Photo by Silvia Vatteroni

In the past few years, we have seen a lot of our favorite and strong gymnasts withdraw from big competitions due injuries. In Sofia, a handful of these formerly injured gymnasts will have their first major international debut in a long time.  

Anna Pavlova of Azerbaijan


 God, how we all miss this gymnast. Whether Pavlova hits or not, we will always love watching her perform.   Thanks to naturalization, the Russian native has the chance to once again compete at the sport's biggest competitions since Beijing Olympics in 2008.   We have no expectations for her in Sofia and we don't care, we just want to see her perform.   


Yulia Inshina of Azerbaijan


 Like Pavlova, Inshina decided to move to the Azerbaijani gymnastics team. Her last major international competition was at the 2011 World championships where she won a silver medal with her Russian team.   Inshina first represented her adopted country at this year's Cottbus cup.    

Janine Berger of Germany


 How can we forget the gymnast who was clearly robbed at London's vault final!   Berger missed the most important competitions last year, the European and World championships due to injury.   Sofia is Berger's first ever European championships. She is a very strong contender on vault and not just that, she doesn't do a Yurchenko vault which is the trend. She does vaults from Tsukahara and handspring/salto forward families.   

Diana Bulimar

 Bulimar has been considered as one of Romania's key gymnasts since last year. At the European championships in Moscow, she won a silver medal on balance beam and a bronze medal on floor exercise, marking her first individual medals at major international competitions. She also tied with Swiss Giulia Steingruber for fourth place at the all around final.   In September, an injury put Bulimar out of Worlds contention. She is now fully recovered, healthy and stronger than ever.   

Youna Dufournet of France


 After failing to qualify to the uneven bars final in London, Youna vowed to continue on in hopes of making the 2016 Rio Olympics. The French gymnast was out for most of the last year, as she took a break in order to concentrate on her studies.  Sofia will be her first major international competition since London Olympics.   Dufournet is one of the five female french gymnasts who won medals at World championships.     

 Other gymnasts: Erika Fasana of Italy and Jonna Adlerteg of Sweden.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid
The 30th European championships is being held in Sofia, Bulgaria and here are the competition’s top fun facts.

This year’s competition will host team and event finals competition. There is no all around final.

The top 8 teams in the qualification, will compete in team final.

Top 8 gymnasts on each event in qualification, will compete in event final.

Countries are limited to only two gymnasts in each individual final, AKA two per country rule.

Thursday, Qualification. Saturday, Team Final. Sunday, Event Finals.

In team final, three gymnasts per apparatus while in qualification, four gymnasts per apparatus.

This is the first time for Bulgaria to host the European artistic gymnastics championships since 1965.

The oldest gymnast in Sofia is Vasiliki Millousi of Greece ( born: 4th May, 1984) and the youngest is Yulia Khramiankova of Belarus ( born: 22nd December, 1998)

(Note: there are about five gymnasts who were born in 1998, which their exact birth date is unknown)

Russian natives Yulia Inshina and Anna Pavlova will make their first major international debut as Azerbaijani gymnasts.

Sofia is Pavlova’s first major international competition since Beijing Olympics in 2008 and Inshina’s first since the 2011 World championships.

If  Romania won the team title, it will be their 7th European team title.

If Russia won the team title, it will be their 4th European title.

The reigning team champion is Romania.

The reigning vault champion is Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland.

The reigning uneven bars champion is Aliya Mustafina of Russia.

The reigning balance beam champion is Larisa Iordache of Romania.

Ksenia Afanasyeva of Russia is the only reigning European champion who will not compete in Sofia.

Maria Paseka of Russia who won a bronze medal on uneven bars at last year’s Euro, was not selected for this year’s European Russian team.

Anastasia Grishina of Russia who won two bronze medals (all around and balance beam) at last year’s Euro, won’t be competing in Sofia due to an injury.

Noel Van Klaveren of Netherlands who won a silver medal on vault at last year’s Euros, won’t be competing in Sofia due to an injury.

Alla Sosnitskaya and World finalist Anna Rodionova of Russia will have their first European championship in Sofia.

Sanne Wevers and Lieke Wever who are a part of the Sofia Dutch team are twins.

Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Israel, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Portugal,  Slovenia, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey will not be represented by full teams.

Former Russian gymnast Ekatertina Kurbatova who won two gold medals at 2010 European championships, will be in Sofia as the coach of the Georgian gymnasts.

Britain’s Becky Downie and her sister Ellie Downie will be competing in Sofia, the first in the senior competition and the latter in the junior one.

Sofia will be the first major international competition for France’s Youna Dufournet, Britain’s Hannah Whelan, Germany’s Janine Berger, Germany’s Kim Bui and Italy’s Erika Fasana since the 2012 Olympic games.

*Major international competitions: EC, WC and OG.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid