Training session -first day Tuesday April 1st
by Bernard Garau
This day of training session for the senior competitors was the opportunity to review the gymnasts and also the state of preparation of the teams. 34 nations came to Clermont-Ferrand, last occasion for the nations to rival before the August Olympics of Beijing. Also Europeans nations 'd try to define their current hierarchy before facing China and Usa.
Russia and Romania came to the 27th Europeans with the status of favorite. Also Italy could pretend to a team medal as well as individual ones.
The Russian team built around the experienced Anna Pavlova (21 years) back after a long absence and several injuries, the Stuttgart Uneven Bars World Champion Ksenia Semenova with her full and rich bars and beam contents, Ksenia Afanaseva, Svetlana Klyukina and Myashniskova who finally replaced Yulia Lozhecko (ill some days before arriving to Clermont).
The team gave a very impression during the training day with girls acting like a team, cheerings one other, smiling and obviously arrived in a very good state of preparation.
Romania's goal was to keep the podium ranking (silver in Volos 2006 for the team event) and to reach individual medals with their most experienced gymnasts. So Romania's team includes Sandra Izbasa and Steliana Nistor who both could pretend to the different titles, the young but still steady competitors Cerasela Patrascu (born in 1992), Gabriela Dragoi and Anamaria Tamirjan.
Little surprise during the training with unusual falls on beam for Steliana Nistor, Sandra Izbasa left a great impression, as well as leader of the team as for her skill mastering especially on floor and beam.
Audience focusing point was the home team: Isabelle Severino, Cassy Vericel, Laetitia Dugain, Pauline Morel and Marine Petit and their coach Veronique Legras-Snoeck who replaced Yves Kieffer since several months.
The powerful and experienced Isabelle, leader of the team and quite coach in second for her teammates remains an essential gymnast in the team since several years, her performances on floor and bars can be decisive for the team event.
The rising star Marine Petit already owns world class skills in her routines, audience applaused a lot for her floor and beam passages.
The newcomer Pauline Morel, not yet very known but mentally strong with a powerful energy and desire to perform on the top. Cassy Vericel, powerful like usual, did not seem to be in a total good shape.
Italy could pretend to the different podiums due to the high level of its competitors level (Vanessa Ferrari, Carlotta Giovannini, defender of the Vault Europeans title, Francesca Benolli, Monica Bergamelli and the wonderful Lia Parolari).
Ukraine's team quality seemed to be the experience of three gymnasts, Irina Krasnyanska, Marina Proskurina and Alina Kozich.
Alina is currently the best opportunity for UKraine to get medal in the senior category. Anastasia Koval and Valentyna Holenkova need more experience to be fully competitive in the goal to reach finals and medals.
Interesting moment of this day was the training time of the former Ukrainian gymnast Valerya Maksyuta now competing for Israel, Valerya was out of the gym events since months and did her come back, for the pleasure of nice gymnastics routine, her beam and floor passage delighted the audience.
No real new thing after this first day but already some ideas: the whole and full interest of the competitions!!