Gymnasts & Groups To Watch At The Rhythmic Junior World Championships

When it comes to rhythmic gymnastics, many of the top athletes and teams are from Europe, and several junior European Championship medalists and finalists will be ones to watch at the first FIG Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships, especially in this pre-Olympic year.

Laura Anitei (ROU)

When it comes to Romanian gymnastics, rhythmic isn't usually the discipline that comes to mind, but Anitei has shown she can contend for major international titles. At last year's European Championships, she was seventh in the all-around and qualified for the hoop final, finishing in fourth with a score of 16.750. With some familiar faces from European Championships also competing at the Rhythmic Junior World Championships, Anitei has a good shot at making the hoop final once again if she can at least match her performance from last year.

In addition, she turns 16 next year, meaning she's age eligible for the Tokyo Olympics. If she can do well at Junior Worlds, she'll show the Romanian Gymnastics Federation she's capable of hitting on one of the biggest international stages.

Belarus group (5 hoops, 5 ribbons)

The junior group from Belarus has already shown it's capable of medal-worthy routines in Europe, but now it's time to show that to the world. In both the 5 hoops and 5 ribbons competitions, the Belarusian gymnasts won bronze at this year's European Championships, demonstrating their versatility. The group sometimes has timing issues but has a lot of potential.

Belarus' junior group includes Palina Aliaksandrava, Yauheniya Kel, Polina Kovalyova, Viktoriya Padkidysh, Palina Slancheuskaya, and Marharyta Yatseuskaya.

Israel group (5 ribbons)

Gym fans don't usually hear or see Israel much when it comes to artistic gymnastics, but in rhythmic gymnastics, the Israeli gymnasts are contenders. At this year's European Championships, Israel's junior group won silver for its 5 ribbons routine. The group has good synchronicity and beautiful ribbon work and has shown that Israel should not be counted out.

Israel's junior group includes Amit Hedvat, Emili Malka, Mishel Mialitz, Romi Paritzki, and Duaba Svertsov.

Arzu Jalilova (AZE)

Jalilova is one of Azerbaijan's top rhythmic gymnastics and an Olympic hopeful for 2020. At last year's European Championships, she qualified to the ball final and won bronze behind gymnasts from rhythmic's two powerhouse countries, Russia and Ukraine. She's able to balance execution and difficulty well to contend for medals, especially for ball. 

Earlier this year in March, she showed her prowess on two other apparatus at the Corbeil International Rhythmic Gymnastics Tournament in March. She won bronze for ribbon and clubs. 

Lala Kramarenko (RUS)

Russia is dominant in rhythmic gymnastics, and Kramarenko could be the country's next star. Last year at the European Championships, she won two of the four individual medals juniors were eligible for, becoming the ball and ribbon champion. She's no stranger to the Junior Grand Prix circuit, having won last year's Junior Grand Prix all-around title. In addition, she's a three-time junior Russian all-around champion, winning three years in a row. 

Russia group (5 hoops, 5 ribbons)

In addition to being dominant in individual rhythmic competition, Russia's junior group is one to beat as well. It won gold for both 5 hoops and 5 ribbons at the 2019 European Championships. The group has great synchronicity, especially during the fouette turns in the 5 ribbons routine and the kick sequences in both. In addition, the 5 ribbons routine has good difficulty with a D-score of 13.0 while the 5 hoops routine is even more difficult at 16.3. The group seems to have a bit more control and better timing in the 5 hoops routine but is able to hit both routines cleanly and without major problems or mistakes.

In Russia's junior group are Amina Khaldarova, Elizaveta Koteneva, Anna Batasova, Aleksandra Semibratova, Dana Semirenko, and Alisa Tishchenko.

Gymnasts & Groups To Watch At The Minsk Rhythmic World Challenge Cup

The 2019 FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup series continues in Minsk, Bulgaria, from Aug. 16-18. Gymnasts from more than 30 countries will be competing for medals in individual and group events, but the top gymnasts to watch are from Europe and include three Olympic hopefuls.

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