Koper World Challenge Cup Recap: Black Returns From Injury, Iordache Shines

Filippo Tomasi Larisa Iordache beam leap

Release via FIG

With two gold medals, Romanian star Larisa Iordache continued her successful comeback at the first of five 2017 FIG World Challenge Cups, May 12-14 in Koper (SLO). The 2012 Olympic team bronze and 2014 World All-around silver medallist returned to competition for the first time in nine months at April's European Championships at home in Romania, scoring a bronze medal on Balance Beam.

Iordache, who turns 21 on June 19, improved on her recent results in Koper, soaring to first place finishes on Uneven Bars and Balance Beam, where she was up to many of her old tricks, including her extra-difficult back handspring to full twist combination and triple twist dismount.


Return of the Rio Olympians

Rio Olympians peopled the women's podiums in Koper. Brazil's Rebeca Andrade left her Amanar vault at home but easily managed to capture the event title without it, showing a clean double-twisting Yurchenko and floaty layout Podkopayeva encore.

London and Rio Olympian Ellie Black (CAN) made a successful return to competition following a foot injury that kept her out of competition earlier this year. Black's return to the international stage yielded three silver medals for her routines on Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.

Video via Gymfan channel

A taller Flavia Saraiva (BRA), one of the darlings of the home crowd last summer in Rio, took bronze on Uneven Bars, while Olympian Barbora Mokosova (SVK) nabbed bronze on Beam. Germany's Carina Kroell, winner of the Floor title at the Stuttgart World Cup last November, earned her second World Cup gold on the apparatus in Koper.

Americans take two in Men's competition

The USA, which sent rising stars Donnell Whittenburg and Eddie Penev to represent them in Koper, was the only nation to capture more than one title in Koper. Whittenburg, the 2015 World bronze medallist on Vault, showed an improved Parallel Bars set to win gold, and picked up silver medals on Floor Exercise and Vault, events he's better known for.

Video via USA Gymnastics

Penev, who competed at former World Championships for Bulgaria, finished first on Floor.
Video via USA Gymnastics

On Pommel Horse, London Olympic champion Krisztian Berki (HUN) was handed his first World Cup defeat of the season by home crowd favorite Saso Bertoncelj (SLO) after the Hungarian downgraded his dismount, lowering his difficulty score.

Other event winners included 2012 Olympic Rings champion Arthur Zanetti (BRA, Still Rings), Andrey Medvedev (ISR, Vault) and Tin Srbic (CRO, Horizontal Bar).

About the World Challenge Cup series: Koper (SLO) is the first of five Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cups on the 2017 FIG calendar. After Koper, the action turns to Osijek (CRO) May 18-21, followed by Varna (BUL), September 1-3, Szombathely (HUN) and September 8-10. The series concludes in Paris (FRA) September 16-17. Depending on how they place in competition, gymnasts gain points in the World Challenge Cup standings. Those with the highest points totals at the conclusion win the 2017 FIG World Challenge Cup series.

Full Results: 2017 Koper World Challenge Cup
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