Gymnasts To Watch At The Koper World Challenge Cup

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The FIG World Challenge Cup series continues May 30 to June 2 in Koper, Slovenia, where more than 100 men's and women's artistic gymnasts will compete for event titles. This particular meet doesn't feature any gymnasts from the top four men's or women's teams from last year's World Championships, so it may be difficult to know who to keep an eye on, but this meet is a great opportunity to watch gymnasts from smaller gymnastics nations.

Teja Belak (SLO) - Women's Vault

Belak is a Slovenian Olympian and World Championship team member who is very familiar with the World Challenge Cup series and the World Cup meets. She's best on vault, which is the only event she's competed on this year at international meets, including the European Championships. Her most recent meet was the Osijek Challenge Cup, May 25-26, where she won vault gold. Belak's vaults include a front handspring full and a Yurchenko 1.5.


Ilias Georgiou (CYP) - High Bar

The World Championship team member from Cypress just won bronze on high bar at the last World Challenge Cup in Osijek, Croatia. He was a member of Cypress' 2018 Commonwealth Games team and made the high bar final. Most of his release moves are on the simpler side, but he has clean form and good execution that allows him to score well when he hits.


Tomas Gonzalaez (CHI) - Men's Vault, Floor Exercise

Gonzalez is a Chilean Olympian who's best known for his vault and floor. He was the first Chilean gymnast to medal at a World Cup and the first Chilean gymnast to compete at the Olympics. In Rio, he qualified to the vault final, and in London 2012, he qualified to the vault and floor finals. He also won the floor title at the 2018 Senior Pan American Championships.


Ilaria Kaeslin (SUI) - Balance Beam

Kaeslin is a five-time Swiss World Championship team member best known for her balance beam work. She's the current Swiss champion in the all-around and on beam and floor exercise. At this year's 2019 European Championships, she finished fourth on beam. Her notable beam skills include a back handspring back handspring layout step-out series, an Onodi, and a full-twisting back handspring. In addition, she has a great toepoint that's especially visible during her leaps, and she shows off her flexibility.


Zsofia Kovacs (HUN) - Uneven Bars, Balance Beam

Kovacs is a Hungarian Olympian and two-time World Championship team member who's no stranger World Challenge Cups. At last year's Szombathely World Challenge Cup, she won beam and has won numerous other World Cup and Challenge Cup medals since 2016. Her best events are bars and beam, which she won at the 2018 Hungarian Masters Championships, and they're the only two events she set to compete in Koper. On bars, her notable skills include a Maloney, a piked Tkatchev, a Pak salto, a van Leeuwen, and a piked Jaeger. On beam, her notable skills include a split leap mount, a back handspring layout step-out series, a double turn, and a double tuck dismount.


Rhys McClenaghan (IRL) - Pommel Horse

McClenaghan is the 2018 European champion on pommel horse as well as the reigning Commonwealth Games champion on pommel horse. He won two medals on pommel horse at World Challenge Cups last year, including gold in Mersin, Turkey, and won silver on pommel at last week's Zhaoging Challenge Cup.


Yamilet Pena Abreu (DOM) - Women's Vault

Pena Abreu is a Dominican Olympian who's known for doing the difficult Produnova vault. She's the reigning Central American & Carribean Games vault champion and made the vault final at two Challenge Cups last year. Although she doesn't compete the Produnova anymore, she's still capable of hitting two solid vaults to qualify for finals. At last year's Central American & Caribbean Games, she vaulted a double twisting Yurchenko and a front handspring 1.5.


Alexander Shatilov (ISR) - Men's Floor Exercise

Shatilov is a seven-time European Championships medalist and a two-time world medalist on floor. He was the 2013 European floor champion, but his most recent gold medal on the event was at the Doha World Cup earlier this year. Some of his floor passes from last year's European Championships include a front double pike 1/2 out and a double double.



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