Olympic Champions Vernyayev, Ponor Headline Europeans

vernyayev_oleg_30More than 250 gymnasts from 36 nations have been entered into this year’s European championships, taking place April 19-23 in Cluj-Napoca, says intlgymnast.com.

The European gymnastics championships are returning to Romania for the first time since 1957, when the very first women’s continental event was held in Bucharest. The competition will take place at Sala Polivalenta, the largest arena in Romania with a capacity of 10,000 spectators.

The European championships follow a biennial schedule; this year’s event is the individual championships for seniors, with the all-around and event titles up for grabs. (Senior team competition and the Junior European championships are held in even years.) Each country can enter up to six male gymnasts and four female gymnasts, with up to three gymnasts competing each event in qualification. A maximum of two gymnasts per nation may qualify to any one final.

Defending men’s champion Oleg Vernyayev will be back in Cluj, but a new women’s champion will be crownded as 2015 champion Giulia Steingruber will be absent.

Following a nightmare 2016 in which they failed to qualify for the Olympic Games, the Romanian women will be looking to uphold their golden legacy in Cluj. Three-time Olympic champion Catalina Ponor, the only medalist for the Romanian seniors at the 2016 Europeans in Bern, is the top hope for a medal. 2012 Olympian Larisa Iordache will be back in action in Cluj, but has been struggling with plantar fasciitis that forced her to withdraw from the all-around World Cup in Stuttgart.


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