The last of five World Challenge Cup rhythmic gymnastics competitions is this weekend. Held in Portimão, Portugal, the fifth and final WCC competition in this series will take place Sept. 6-8. Rhythmic seniors will compete as individuals and groups to see who can top the podiums in this southern beach town.
Russia, Italy, Japan are among the countries competing in the group event in Portimão. Because Russia is competing, it is likely to win the group division after combining its 5 balls score and 4 clubs and 3 hoops score—although 4 clubs and 3 hoops is somewhere Russia can stand to improve. In this WCC series Russia has not yet taken first in that group event, and that is somewhere it will be looking to do better. Italy also has a chance of doing well in the group competition, where 5 balls is its strong event as well.
Aleksandra Soldatova of Russia is a strong contender for all-around gold. This four-time world champion is an experienced competitor and took first in the first competition of the series in Guadalajara.
In individual events, Soldatova looks strong in hoop as well. Her grace and poise paired with high-level skills are often unmatched, and with some of her teammates out of the individual competition this meet, it could be her chance to take first on this event. She won first in this hoop at Guadalajara—below is her final performance from that competition.
Ball is an event with a few strong contenders. Soldatova is strong at this event as well, but so is Anastasia Guzenkova of Russia. It is not just the Russians competing for first, with Alexandra Agiurgiuculese being someone who could take gold away from Russia. We will likely see a podium with these three gymnasts winning this event, but who is on top depends on who has a good day. Below is Anastasia Guzenkova’s routine from the Tashkent World Cup, where she took third.
Clubs will mainly be a competition between Soldatova and Agiurgiuculese, who were first and second in Guadalajara. They are both steady on this event, and either could come out on top. Alina Harnasko of Belarus also has a chance to take this event. Last weekend at the Kazan competition, she placed third, and she has been steadily improving on this event. If she performs again the way she did last weekend, she has a good chance of winning first. Below is her routine from Kazan, where her dynamic personality shows in her routine.
In the final event, ribbon, many of the competitors have a shot at doing well. Soldatova placed first on this event in Guadalajara, but has not placed in it since. Anastasia Guzenkova of Russia took first at the World Cup in Tashkent, showing she is a contender for gold as well. Agiurgiuculese has never placed first, but took second recently in Cluj-Napoca and third earlier this season in Guadalajara. Milena Baldassarri of Italy took third in Minsk, while Alina Harnasko of Belarus placed third in the Pesaro World Cup. Below is Agiurgiuculese’s routine from Cluj-Napoca.
After this weekend, the 2019 World Champion Cup series will be finished, and rhythmic gymnasts will be moving on, looking towards World Championship Qualification.