Calling together the most talented acrobatic gymnasts that the continent has to offer, this week’s European Championships have already been something to marvel at.
Portugal has played host to feats of flexibility and finesse seldom seen in normal spectrums and the quality of talent on display is coming down to its best in this weekend’s finals.
Over 500 athletes aged 11 and above have competed in the junior and senior disciplines this week, with teams being marked for the dynamicity and balance shown in their displays.
That being said, as we enter these final stages, there are those who deserve a little extra attention in the hopes they might produce some last pieces of acrobatic magic.
Dominic Smith and Alice Upcott
Country: Great Britain
Just behind Russia, Great Britain have been the biggest contributors to the European Championships this week, sending no less than 61 competitors to the Portuguese event, according to the competition’s official website.
Two of those are the mixed pair of Dominic Smith and Alice Upcott, who will compete on Saturday.
Fifteen-year-old Upcott is a part of the acrobatic group Spellbound that won Britain’s Got Talent in 2010 and will once again team up with Smith looking to recapture some of the magic the two produced when they became World Games champions earlier this year.
Alexey Dudchenko and Konstantin Pilipchuk
Winning silver at the 2011 European Championships was a magnificent feat achieved by the Russian men’s pairing of Alexey Dudchenko and Konstantin Pilipchuk.
However, the duo would go on to better that runners-up place with gold medals at the 2012 World Championships, showing they had learned from their mistakes and returned all the better for it.
Now, Dudchenko and Pilipchuk will look to impress for their country, steeped in European acrobatics pedigree, as they enter what should be a very fruitful period in both of their careers.
Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova and Ekaterina Loginova
Another Russian team worth paying some attention to is the trio of Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova and Ekaterina Loginova.
The Russians compete this Sunday, hoping to reclaim the gold medals they won at the 2011 European Championships, which were quickly followed up with more of the same at the 2012 World Championships.
Clearly talented and as synchronised as any other team in the running, a lot of Russia’s hopes of claiming more medals goes with these three young ladies.