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13 July 2019 | in Rhythmic Gymnastics

Selezneva, Russia dominate final day of Rhythmic Gymnastics

NAPOLI, Italy – Ekaterina Selezneva of Russia came one win away from a clean sweep of the individual events as she dominated the final day of the Napoli 2019 rhythmic gymnastics competition on Saturday, in front of a near-capacity crowd at Palavesuvio.

 

One day after being crowned individual all-around champion, the 24-year-old triumphed in ball, hoop and ribbon, while adding bronze in clubs.

The native of Pushkino, who now resides in Moscow, had also captured the maximum of five Universiade medals two years ago in Taipei, including gold in ball, three silvers and one bronze.

 

The other individual gold medal awarded on Saturday went to Ukraine’s Yeva Meleshchuk, who prevailed in clubs and also had third-place finishes in hoop and ribbon.

 

In the group competition, the Russian team composed of Alina Alieva, Elina Baruzdina, Marina Kozlova, Valeriia Rusina and Angelina Shkatova completed its sweep of the three events with victories in 5 balls and in 3 hoops + 4 clubs, after taking the all-around title on Friday.

 

Russia was the last country to win all three group finals at the same FISU Games, back in 2013.

 

In individual action, Selezneva proved too much for her rivals in ball, hoop and ribbon, posting winning scores of 21.550, 21.200 and 20.450, respectively. Her only mistake of the afternoon came in the third apparatus, when she dropped a club midway through her routine.

 

“I had a very good competition. To be honest, however, I expected a little more from myself. I didn’t expect to make that mistake in clubs,” said the star of the day, who was looking to become the first athlete to sweep all five individual events since two-time Olympic all-around champion Yevgeniya Kanayeva, also of Russia, in 2009. “I’m still really happy, obviously. And I’m also very proud of my teammates who won all the gold medals in the group competition.”

 

At only 18 years of age, Meleshchuk dazzled the audience and impressed the judges in the clubs final as she merited a score of 21.050. Zohra Aghamirova of Azerbaijan placed second with 20.200 points.

 

“I’m really happy. It’s definitely the biggest win of my career,” said Meleshchuk, a Kiev native who represented her country at the 2018 world championships in Bulgaria. “I love the Italian fans. It was a fantastic atmosphere today.”

 

Rounding out the individual podiums were Julia Evchik of Belarus (19.150) and Estonia’s Viktoria Bogdanova (18.850) in ball; Evchik (20.350) and Meleshchuk (20.150) in hoop; and Italy’s own Alessia Russo (18.700) and Meleshchuk (18.700) in ribbon.

 

Russo’s second place was one of the highlights of the entire competition at Palavesuvio as the raucous crowd erupted when her named moved up the scoreboard and gave her another standing ovation later on when she stepped onto the podium.

“I’m very happy. I’m proud of my performance, not only for myself but also for my coach and all the Italian fans. Their support today was amazing,” said the 22-year-old from Figline Valdarno, who won a team bronze medal at last year’s Worlds.

 

In group action, Russia was simply in a class of its own with scores of 25.075 in 5 balls and 25.650 in 3 hoops + 4 clubs. In both events, Ukraine took silver (22.900 / 24.450) and Japan claimed bronze (21.650 / 21.150).

 

RESULTS:

Individual Ball

Gold: Ekaterina Selezneva (RUS)

Silver: Julia Evchik (BLR)

Bronze: Viktoria Bogdanova (EST)

 

Individual Hoop

Gold: Ekaterina Selezneva (RUS)

Silver: Julia Evchik (BLR)

Bronze: Yeva Meleshchuk (UKR)

 

Individual Clubs

Gold: Yeva Meleshchuk (UKR)

Silver: Zohra Aghamirova (AZE)

Bronze: Ekaterina Selezneva (RUS)

 

Individual Ribbon

Gold: Ekaterina Selezneva (RUS)

Silver: Alessia Russo (ITA)

Bronze: Yeva Meleshchuk (UKR)

 

Group 5 Balls

Gold: Russia

Silver: Ukraine

Bronze: Japan

 

Group 3 Hoops + 4 Clubs

Gold: Russia

Silver: Ukraine

Bronze: Japan

 

12 July 

NAPOLI, Italy – Three days after the finals in artistic gymnastics took place, action was back to the PalaVesuvio hall where the first medals were awarded in rhythmic gymnasts on Friday. Over the past couple of days, the hall was completely transformed with a centre stage and a new look.

Ekaterina Selezneva from Russia (above) who had won a silver medal in the all-around event at Taipei 2017 was the leader in all four routines and won the all-around event in Napoli with a huge gap. Russia also took a gold medal in the group all-around event having seen a strong challenge from Ukraine and Japan. The arena was packed with loud, energetic spectators who cheered on their favourite athletes.

 

On the second day of the all-around competition, the athletes performed with clubs and a ribbon. One day earlier, they had done their routines with a hoop and a ball. In total, there were 32 athletes who were divided into two subdivisions and performed in a rotating order. Eight countries were competing in the group event.

 

Zohra Aghamirova from Azerbaijan who finished the first day in the second position was the first one to perform with a ribbon. An impressive performance with difficult elements helped her earn 16.025 points. In her second routine with the clubs, Aghamirova had smooth connections between the elements and performed at a very high tempo. She expressed so much character and energy that she got the second highest score of 19.850. Overall, she finished with 75.425 points, enough to become a silver medallist in the all-around event.

 

Russia’s 24-year old Ekaterina Selezneva started the second day with the clubs. A magnificent pirouette in the middle of the display caused a great reaction of the audience. She had excellent control of the clubs and scored an outstanding 21.400 points. While performing with the ribbon Selezneva expressed the character of the music very well and was confident in executing her elements. Despite a small slip, she still got the strongest score of 19.500 points and created a gap of around 8 points in the final ranking. Her total score of 83.600 points took her to the first place.

 

Ekaterina Selezneva commented on her performance later. “Everything was going well at the beginning which made me think that I had already passed all the difficult elements. I felt a bit more relaxed at that moment which is what made me lose the ribbon.”

 

She added that “it is very important to concentrate until the very end”.

 

Laura Yihan Zeng from the USA won the bronze medal with a strong performance in all routines. In the ball and hoop she was just one rank below the athlete from Azerbaijan. Her seventh place in the exercise with the clubs and fourteenth place with the ribbon did not allow her to finish the competition with a higher result.

 

Laura, excited about participating in her first Universiade, told FISU “It is such an honour to be here. It is a very enriching experience. It is cool to be an athlete and to be surrounded by other student athletes. The medal is just a cherry on top.”

 

Another spectacular show took place in the evening as groups of five athletes displayed their second routine of the all-around group competition. Many teams were excellent on the floor with three hoops and four clubs, but difficulty level was key.

 

In second place after the first routine, Ukraine put up a sensational show on the second day, perfectly executing all elements and earning a big score of 24.350. Russia, leader on the first day, had to deal with that challenge but ended up with a mistake in the middle of their routine. With 23.050 points the Russians were not able to outscore the Ukrainian team in the hoops and clubs routine, but the 3-point advantage that they had created on the first day helped them to become the overall winners in any case.

 

Japan was consistently strong and took the bronze medal.

 

Elina Baruzdina from the Russian team said “After the moment when the problem occurred, we felt worried. It is very good that we got our concentration again and managed to execute all our next elements.”

 

She added “It does not matter how big your advantage in points is, it is important to come to the stage and do everything in the best possible way.”

 

Olena Diachenko from the Ukrainian team said “We are happy that we got a chance to compete at this event. We felt rather nervous and made some mistakes. We will work on them and make corrections to perform even better tomorrow.”

 

The competition in rhythmic gymnastics will end tomorrow, on July 13. The athletes will compete individually on every apparatus. Eight strongest athletes who emerged after the qualification rounds will enter the stage. The groups will also fight for medals in the two individual apparatus – 5 balls and 3 hoops with 4 clubs.

 

Results

Individual All-Around

Gold: Ekaterina Selezneva (RUS) (83.600)

Silver: Zohra Aghamirova (AZE) (75.425)

Bronze: Laura Yihan Zeng (USA) (72.600)

 

Group All-Around

Gold: Russia (47.250)

Silver: Ukraine (46.025)

Bronze: Japan (42.200)

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