Acro season begins in earnest with FIG Puurs World Cup in Belgium11/02/2016
The jumping off point for April’s Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Putian (CHN) is happening this weekend, half a world away from the coastal Chinese city where the 2016 World champions will be decided.
Marharyta Bartashevich and Viktoryia Mikhnovich (BLR)
Instead, Puurs (BEL), a suburb of Antwerp, will serve as the stage in which the first act of the World Championship season is played out. For the top gymnasts, including host country favorites Vincent Casse and Arne van Gelder, the reigning European champions in Men’s Pairs, as well as hopefuls like Mixed Pair Elena Murashko and Ivan Nesterenko (RUS), the FIG Puurs World Cup is the occasion to set the standard for Acro Gymnastics in 2016.
The Chinese, who will welcome the world in early April, will also be present in Puurs with a delegation comprised of competitors from all categories except Mren’s Group. Absent from all but one World Cup competition in 2015, the Chinese begin this year with what coaches and supporters hope is a show of strength. Acro has a long and glorious tradition in the country, and organisers hope that having the World Championships in China will restore the discipline to prestige.
Event: FIG Puurs Acro World Cup
Location: Puurs (BEL)
Competition schedule: Qualifications Thursday and Friday, finals Saturday
Names to watch: With the reigning World champions in all five categories absent from the competition, the World Cup represents an excellent chance for new-era gymnasts like Mixed Pair Lewis Walker and Isabella Montagna (GBR) to establish themselves before the Putian Worlds.
The The only reigning World medallists on the roster for Puurs are Belarussian Men's Pair Yauheni Novikau and Ilya Rybinski. Their countrywomen Marharyta Bartashevich and Viktoryia Mikhnovich, who landed just off the podium at the 2014 Worlds, are expected to contend for the title in Women’s Pairs competition.
Eight Women’s Trios from seven countries, including China, Azerbaijan, Great Britain and the United States, will also be aiming for the podium, while Russia, the only country to enter Men’s Group in Puurs, will have an intrasquad.
World Cup calendar: Puurs is the first of three FIG Acro World Cups scheduled for 2016, but only two are happening before the World Championships in April. After Puurs, gymnasts will head to the Maia (POR), outside Porto, for the FIG Maia World Cup March 4-6. A third FIG World Cup is scheduled for October 7-9 in Rzeszow (POL).