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Once a year, the top gymnasts from around the world gather in Jesolo, a seaside resort town in Venice, Italy, for the City of Jesolo Trophy meet. The competition features team and individual competitions at the senior and junior levels. Team USA won the senior team competition every year from 2010 to 2017 and has much to prove in 2019 after not sending a team last year.
In 2018, Russia took gold, Brazil snagged the silver spot and Italy ended up with bronze in the senior team competition. Although it did not compete in the team division, the United States still sent eight gymnasts to compete in the individual competition, with Emma Malabuyo winning gold and Ragan Smith claiming silver. Anastasia Iliankova, from Russia, took third individually.
To get you even more excited to watch this high-stakes competition, here’s our list of eight international gymnasts who have a good shot of standing on the podium this year. Stay tuned for an upcoming preview of the Team USA contingent.
Liu Tingting, China
Chinese gymnast Liu Tingting was born Sept. 6, 2000, putting her well into the senior category at the time of the Jesolo meet.
Tingting is best known for winning gold on beam at the 2018 World Championships. She barely qualified for event finals after placing her hand on the beam after landing her front tuck, but she ended up taking first place, nailing the a beam routine with the highest difficulty and execution score in the entire meet.
At the 2017 Melbourne World Cup, Tingting took first on bars and beam and third on floor. In 2016, she originally named to the Chinese Olympic team, but injured her hand while training bars and had to be replaced. Before that unfortunate injury, she performed well nationally at the 2016 Chinese National Championships. There she won third all-around, silver on beam and fifth place on bars and floor.
Tingting is also known for becoming the Chinese junior all-around champion in the junior competition in 2015. Now she is stepping back into the international realm of competition, and chances look good for this well-decorated gymnast to add even more hardware to her collection.
Emma Malewski, Germany
Malewski is a junior to keep an eye on in this competition. She will be competing for Germany and is going to make a splash, returning after competing at Jesolo in 2018. Her experience at this meet will serve her well, as many are coming in as first-timers. Last year, she placed 17th all-around in the junior competition with a 49.834. She got scores of 12.867 on vault, 12.100 on bars, 12.567 on beam and 12.300 on floor last year, and will no doubt be looking to improve those scores in the upcoming competition.
Malewski is perhaps best known in the gymnastics world for competing and placing in the 2018 European Championships, where she helped the juniors take seventh as a team. After competing on bars, beam and floor, she contributed her floor score to the team. Her score, a 12.533, was the highest floor score on her team by almost 0.2 points. With a difficulty of 4.5 and execution of 8.033, her 12.533 on floor earned her 20th place on that event.
Nina Derwael, Belgium
Nina Derwael arrives in Jesolo with a lot of past experience with large competitions. Born on March 26, 2000, she will be 18 at the time of competition and competing as a senior.
Derwael became a senior gymnast in 2016 and competed in the Rio Olympics that same year, placing 19th in the all-around final. She also competed at the 2016 European Championships that year, though her team missed qualifying for the team final.
In 2017, Derwael won the bars final at the 2017 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, becoming the first Belgium female gymnast to do so. She made history for her country once again at the 2017 World Championships, placing third on bars and becoming the first woman from Belgium to medal at Worlds. She also placed eighth all-around and competed a Stalder to Tkatchev with a half turn, an original skill that was then named after her in the code of points.
In 2018, she gained more recognition when she took the Belgian all-around title and medaled on all four events. She also won the 2018 European Championship bars title for the second year in a row and surprised many by taking second in the beam final. She competed at the 2018 World Championships, taking fourth all-around, less than a tenth of a point short of a podium finish. She won the bars title over Simone Biles, beating Biles by a huge margin of six tenths, and placed fourth on beam.
Taking first on bars at the 2018 World Championships gave Derwael lots of acknowledgement from her country, as she made history again as the first Belgian gymnast to win gold at Worlds.
Vladislava Urazova, Russia
A junior competitor from Russia, Urazova is not new to the Jesolo competition. She competed at Jesolo in 2018, placing first all-around and setting the bar high for her 2019 performance. Her all-around score that won first place in 2018 was a 54.600, a combination of 14.200 on vault, 13.633 on bars, 13.767 on beam and 13.000 on floor.
Born on Aug. 14, 2004, this junior had other impressive accomplishments in 2018 as well. She competed at the European Championships, Voronin Cup and Russian Junior Championships. At the Voronin Cup she took first all-around with a 54.950. In event finals, she took first on vault with a 14.275 and first on floor with a 13.675. Urazova placed silver on bars and beam, with a 12.850 and a 14.200.
At the Russian Junior Championships, she made it to the podium, taking silver in all-around and gold in the vault, beam and floor event finals, scoring a huge 14.016 on vault and 14.033 on beam.
She did equally well in 2017, taking gold on vault and floor as well as silver all-around at the Voronin Cup, shortly after taking gold on vault at the 2017 Russian Junior Championships.
This year in Jesolo, Urazova will be tasked with defending her title against a strong field of competitors.
Qi Qi, China
Competing for China, Qi Qi is a new senior this year, having just moved up from the junior ranks. At the 2018 Asian Junior Championships, she placed first all-around with a 53.650. She also placed first on vault with a difficulty of 5.4, execution of 9.100 and a score of 14.050.
This gymnast also placed first on floor at that competition, scoring a 13.500 after a difficulty of 5.0 and execution of 8.500. She helped China win first as a team at the 2018 Asian Junior Championships with a total of 162.950.
In the 2018 Chinese Championships, Qi Qi tied for first in the vault final, scoring a 14.750 to tie with Liu Jinru. On floor, she narrowly missed medaling, taking fourth place with a 13.133. She took seventh in all-around qualifications with a score of 52.350. Her team, Beijing, took second at the meet, and she contributed scores on vault and floor.
After her 2018 success, it will be exciting to see this remarkable gymnast transition to senior competitions.
Elena Gerasimova, Russia
Placing ninth in the 2018 Jesolo junior competition, Gerasimova is back in 2019 to hopefully gain a podium spot this year. Competing for Russia, this junior competitor scored a 12.800 on vault, 12.333 on bars, 13.500 on beam and 12.667 on floor in 2018, giving her a 51.300 all-around score.
After Jesolo, the rest of Gerasimova’s season was successful as well. She competed at the Russian Junior Championships before moving onto Elite Gym Massilia, where she took gold on beam with a 13.833. Her most recent major competition was the 2018 Voronin Cup, where she took first on beam, this time scoring a 14.625.
She placed well at the Russian Junior Championships in 2017, taking gold on beam with a 13.633 and bronze on floor with a 13.133 in event finals. In the all-around competition, Gerasimova took bronze with a 52.598. A good beam worker, she is known for being quick and light-footed, and has a good chance to qualify to the beam event finals at Jesolo this year.
Ayumi Niiyama, Japan
A new senior this year, Niiyama is competing for Japan. In 2018, Niiyama showed the world what she is capable of, placing fourth at the Asian Junior Championships, scoring a 51.650. She placed second on vault at the same meet, scoring a 13.913 with a difficulty of 5.4 and execution of 8.800, right behind Qi Qi. She also placed fourth on beam and floor, scoring a 12.975 on beam and 13.225 on floor. She helped Japan take second place, with a team score of 153.250. As she moves from junior to senior ranks, it will be interesting to see how she performs at Jesolo.
Lara Hinsberger, Germany
Hinsberger returns to Jesolo having placed 26th at the 2018 junior competition. Competing for Germany, she has a good chance of doing well this year as a junior competitor. In 2018, she had some problems on beam, scoring only a 10.367 on that event, compared to her 13.500 on vault, 12.167 on bars and 12.167 on floor. These mistakes lowered her all-around score to 48.201, which cost her a chance at placing higher.
In 2019, she has another opportunity to make fewer mistakes and perform to the best of her ability. In the 2018 European Championships she competed in the individual all-around competition and placed 14th with a 50.865 (13.566 on vault, 13.033 on bars, 11.966 on beam and 12.300 on floor).