Updated: Jun 23, 2021
The third competition from the World Cup series in RG took place last weekend (7-9th May 2021) in Baku. It was very well attended competitor-wise, giving us – the fans - a chance to witness the exciting clash between some of the best gymnasts in the world, both in the individual event, and in group. In this article, I have chosen to share with you what I thought were the most exciting moments from the competition.
New Look for the World Cup in Baku
The National Gymnastics Arena in Baku where the World Cup took place was completely transformed in comparison to previous years. I liked the simplicity and streamlined design of the blue set, as it allowed me to really focus on the competition and the performances without distractions from the backdrop.
The World Cup had an excellent online platform set up for reporting the scores, called SmartScoring which was updated in real time and made it very easy to follow the competition. You can review all the results from the competition here.
As a remote spectator, I found that the quality of the live stream was particularly important to enjoy the competition. The camerawork was satisfactory, but the view was sometimes obstructed by a pole with a camera on top of it and even people passing in front of the camera. This was particularly annoying when it happened during the gymnasts’ routines.
The hosts had made a considerable effort to comply with social distancing and make the event safe. There was no live audience in the hall (similar to other sports events at the moment), and lateral flow tests were performed for every participant. In addition, to ensure safe environment during the award ceremony, medals were distributed by drones to the gymnasts at the podium!
Team Bulgaria Out with the Big Guns
The Bulgarian group (Simona Dyankova, Madlen Radukanova, Erika Zafirova, Laura Traets and Stefani Kiryakova) demonstrated excellent consistency in Baku this past weekend and dominated the group event, winning all three titles. They performed their routines flawlessly both in qualification and in the finals. Bearing in mind the high difficulty of their routines, this is an astonishing feat and requires immense focus, physical preparation, and mental strength. As always, these five gymnasts showcased excellent shape and readiness to deliver high results. I have previously written a post about Bulgaria’s mixed routine 2021, and if you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here.
Boryana Kaleyn from Bulgaria was another competitor that stood out with her consistency and high difficulty throughout the competition. She is the silver all-around medallist falling only 0.275 points behind the champion Trubnikova from Russia (more on that below). Kaleyn went on to win three more medals in the finals – bronze with ball, silver with clubs, and gold with ribbon. You can read my very popular post about Boryana Kaleyn’s ball routine 2021 here.
The Surprise - Daria Trubnikova
The all-around title in the individual event went to young gymnast Daria Trubnikova from Russia. This was Daria’s first competition from the World Cup series, having only competed in one of the World Challenge Cups before in 2019 (Cluj-Napoka). Daria managed to show her four routines in full glory and perform without any major errors during the all-around competition. She earned Russia’s only gold medal in this competition. In contrast, more experienced gymnasts who were more obvious contenders for the title, such as Linoy Ashram, Alina Harnasko, and Boryana Kaleyn performed with errors and/or hesitations in the all-around, which left the door open for Daria to claim the title. She showed four very well executed performances, which hints at her ability to deliver consistently. In the day of the finals Daria added one silver medal (with ball) to her collection from Baku. Coached by Amina Zaripova who was also the personal coach of Olympic champion Margarita Mamun, Daria is certainly a gymnast to look out for in the future.
I enjoyed watching Daria’s routines, as her artistry, style and elegance reminded me of those of former Russian gymnast Alexandra Soldatova. I have previously written a post about Sasha Soldatova, and if you haven't done so, you can read it here. I look forward to seeing how Daria Trubnikova will develop as a gymnast, as she is one of the ‘new generation’ of rhythmic gymnasts who will ‘spread her wings’ very soon.
Group Italy with New Routines and a Silver Sweep
The group of Italy starring Alessia Maurelli, Martina Centofanti, Agnese Duranti, Daniela Mogurean and Martina Santandrea, claimed all of the silver medals in the group event, both in the all-around and in the finals. It was exciting to watch their new routines, which not only have very high difficulty but also demonstrate character and choreography.
Italy’s routine with 5 balls is set to a musical piece called ‘Ninja’ by French composer Maxime Rodriguez who is famous for composing music for figure skating routines, as well as rhythmic gymnastics routines. Dressed in leotards that resemble kimonos, the Italian team is preparing an Olympic cracker which is sure to please the audience from Japan in time for the Olympic Games this summer! With agility and supreme coordination, team Italy delivered this magnificent Japanese-style routine at the World Cup in Baku (see video below).
Italy’s new mixed routine (with 3 hoops and 4 clubs) is a beautiful composition set to music called ‘Tree of Life Suite’ by Italian experimental composer Roberto Cacciapaglia. This piece of music was created to accompany a light-and-water show around a 34m installation called ‘Albero della Vita’ (The Tree of Life) in 2015 for the World Expo in Milan, Italy.
This monument has become iconic in Italy and a symbol of Italian contribution to the world. The choice of music reveals this appreciation of the team of their own roots and culture. Team Italy demonstrate their high class in this beautiful mixed routine! I really enjoyed watching how the gymnasts go in and out of formations so effortlessly, while performing difficult exchanges and collaborations with poise and in tune with the musical accompaniment. See blow a video of Italy's mixed routine.
Colourful Podiums in the Individual Competition
Sunday was exciting and dramatic! We were able to witness the performances so many excellent and very strong gymnasts! This resulted in very colourful and varied podiums. I find that really refreshing and it is great to see the efforts of so many gymnasts from a variety of countries being rewarded and recognised. Linoy Ashram from Israel claimed the gold medals with hoop and clubs, Alexandra Agiurgiuculese from Italy earned the title in the ball final, while Bulgaria’s Boryana Kaleyn claimed the gold with ribbon. I have previously written an article about Linoy Ashram's hoop routines, and if you wish to, you can read it here. You can see the complete medals distribution from the finals in Baku in the image below.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these highlights from the World Cup competition in Baku 2021. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you. To conclude this article, I leave you with a wonderful musical piece to which Daria Trubnikova performed her ribbon routine this past weekend. ‘And the Waltz Goes On’ is composed by Sir Anthony Hopkins and is performed in the video below by André Rieu’s orchestra. Enjoy!
See you next time,
Videos of the finals
Edited on 23.06.2021 to update multimedia.