The 26th Senior European Championship in acrobatic gymnastics kicks off this week in Odivelas, Portugal, with Russia (80) and Great Britain (61) leading the way in representation numbers.
In total, more than 500 competitors from 23 countries were expected to descend on the Iberian Peninsula for the Age Group Championships and both the junior and senior events.
After the conclusion of the underage levels on Monday, the senior athletes are undergoing final preparations before taking centre stage on Wednesday, October 23, as the main event gets underway.
There are five categories at this year’s event—women’s pair, men’s pair, mixed pair and women’s and men’s groups.
|Women's Pair||Kim/Dubrovina (Russia)||Yanusik/Mikhnevich (Belarus)||Bialis/Chiebisz (Poland)|
|Men's Pair||Pilipchuk/Dudchenko (Russia)||Pritchard/Houston (GBR)||Novikau/Rybinski (Belarus)|
|Mixed Pair||Gurgenidze/Chernova (Russia)||Iasynskyi/Batuyeva (Ukraine)||Kirov/Ivanova (Bulgaria)|
There will be no time for the gymnasts to ease their way into the competition. Qualification scores are added to teams' final tallies, so the first tumble and the last are equally important.
|Oct 23 and 24||Qualifications|
|Oct 25||All-around Final|
|Oct 26||Individual Final|
|Oct 27||Individual Final|
Euro Acro 2013
Not to be confused with regular gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics is, well, slightly more acrobatic. Check out the clip below if you’re unfamiliar with how it’s done.
Here’s a look at some competitors to keep your eye on in the three big events.
In the absence of 2012 world champions Anastasiya Melnychenko and Katarzyna Sytnikova, Valentina Kim and Elizaveta Dubrovina will be one of the favourites to take home the gold in Portugal.
The Russian pair won silver at the same event in 2011, according to the FIG, and although they just missed out on a medal at the World Championship, they performed the highest amount of difficulty of any pair.
If they can add impeccable execution to their routine, they will be difficult to stop this year.
Belarus’ Yana Yanusik and Sviatlana Mikhnevich will also challenge for top spot. The latter of the two was part of the silver-medal-winning pair at the Worlds in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Russia's Konstantin Pilipchuk and Alexey Dudchenko will be favourites to top the podium in the men’s pair.
The 2011 European and 2012 world champions were pushed all the way by British duo Edward Upcott and Adam McAssey—who were part of the act Spelbound that won Britain's Got Talent in 2010—for the world title, but their challenge will come from a different pair in Odivelas.
Compatriots Tim Pritchard and Alex Houston will be hoping to fly the flag for Team GB in this category. According to British Gymnastics, they have won national titles at all levels and took home silver at the 2013 World Games.
In the absence of the current world champions Laure de Pryck and Nicolas Vleeshouwers, there are a few teams in with a shot of winning the mixed event.
Russia’s Revaz Gurgenidze was a silver medallist at the Europeans in 2011 and again at the World Championship in 2012. He will pair off with a different partner, Marina Chernova, in the hope of going one better this time around.
Ukrainian world-bronze-medal winners Denys Iasynskyi and Inna Batuyeva are also in the field, as are the current European bronze-medal holders Zlatin Kirov and Mirela Ivanova.