15. June 2014  
Baku, Azerbaijan  

Juniors Apparatus Finals: ... a Russian golden Quartett

Last day of competition in the 30th European Championships of Rhythmic gymnastics 2014 took place in Baku:
The schedule started with the juniors apparatus finals, followed then by the senior groups final and the closing ceremony and gala. About the juniors finals, the most interesting point is that only one gymnast per country is allowed to compete, making it more diverse and giving the chance to more countries to fight for the medals. It might be a suitable measure also for the senior apparatus finals, where only 4-5 countries get to compete, and always the same.
The audience was clearly divided into two blocks: the ones supporting Russia, which came to Baku in a big number, and the local spectators. There was a constant fight between them to show who could shout louder and cheer more for their respective teams.

Yuliya Bravikova (RUS) and her coach

The Russian Irina Annenkova, even if not the most charismatic and charming gymnast on the carpet, did a fine execution which was enough for her to become junior European Champion with ball with 16.300 points.  Maryia Trubach from Belarus could instead do a clean routine and get the silver medal, which is a really important result for her and her country. Bulgaria also got a medal, with the performance of Boryana Kaleyn to Barbara Streissand’s “Memories”. Maybe a too demanding melody for a young girl who lacks the needed expression for this music, but it did work this time to enter the podium. The judges gave her 15.950 points.

1. Irina Annenkova (RUS) - 16.300
2. Maryia Trubach (BLR)  - 16.016
3. Boryana Kaleyn (BUL) - 15.950

4. Linoy Ashram (ISR)  - 15.816
5. Valeriya Khanina (UKR) - 15.466
6. Letizia Cicconcelli (ITA) - 15.450
7. Zhala Piriyeva (AZE)     - 15.250
8. Eleni Kelaiditi (GRE)  - 14.675
       > Detailed results

Winner trio, Clubs

+ Ribbon
The drawing of lots for the ribbon final was not lucky for the local Azeri gymnast Zhala Piriyeva, who performed the last one with clubs and the first with ribbon, having almost no time to change and recover, which might have be the reason for her big mistake with ribbon, dropping it out of the carpet, missing that way her last medal chance. She didn’t have her best day today and it’s a big pity because she’s a very promising talent.

The competition format is too demanding and the routines go one after each other with almost no time to rest, prepare themselves or just change of leotards. Maybe they should find a way to make it less stressing for the gymnasts. The evidence is that the ribbon final was by far the one with worse performances, and not only due to the humidity in the competition hall, but because of the issue above mentioned.
Russia, as always, was eager to get gold medals, and didn’t even want to a chance to other nations to approach them. No matter which of its gymnasts performs, in this case it was Irina Annekova, they use to always beat all others. Even if her last routine today was not the best we’ve seen, with the ribbon wrapped around her body twice, it was not enough to win this final with 15.816 points.
The charming Ukrainian gymnast Valeriya Khanina got the silver one for a great routine. She was clear and free of mistakes, but somehow couldn’t beat her Russian competitor. The audience had the feeling that her performance might have deserved the gold medal, but the judges gave her 15.750 due to her apparently lower execution.Finally, again without being among the favorites, the Israeli Linoy Ashram (ISR) entered the third step of the podium with a not so difficult but clear routine, with fine execution, getting 15.650 points for it.

1. Irina Annenkova (RUS)  - 15,816
2. Valeria Khanina (UKR)  - 15,750
3. Linoy Ashram      (ISR)  - 15,650

4. Eleni Kelaiditi           (GRE)  - 15.566
5. Stefaniya Manakhava (BLR)  - 15.300
6. Katerina Marinova      (BUL)  - 15.033
7. Letizia Cicconcelli       (ITA)  - 15.450
8. Zhala Piriyeva           (AZE)   - 14.233
      > Detailed results