Four nations shine at FIG Maia World Cup, last stop before Acro Worlds07/03/2016
No nation won more than one title at the FIG Maia Acrobatic World Cup in Portugal this weekend, indicating that the fight for medals and superiority at next month's Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Putian (CHN) is going to be tight.
Above: Aynur Huseynova, Lala Huseynova and Narmin Ramazanova, bronze medallists in the Women's Group category.
Belgians Arne van Gelder and Vincent Casse, the reigning European champions in Men's Pair, continued their run of success with their second World Cup title of the year in Maia. Van Gelder, part of the Belgian Men's Group at the 2012 World Championships, have come into their own in pairs competition, evidenced by their comfortable half-point margin of victory over Alexey Iakovlev and Daniil Kuzmin (RUS). Newcomers Michail Kraft and Tim Sebastian (GER) finished with bronze, fulfilling their own podium aspirations.
Russian Mixed Pair Marina Chernova and Georgy Pataraya, who romped the European Championships and European Games in 2015, did not compete in Maia, but even without them the Russians put on a display of Acrobatic prowess. The win came from new seniors Ekaterina Vdovina and Maksim Soprunov, whose elegance on the mat set them apart as much as their complicated acrobatics.
Even a 0.3 neutral deduction, which cut their lead over silver medallists Joao Martins and Madalena Carlos (POR) to less than half a point, was hardly a distraction to the attentive crowd at the Maia Municipal Gymnastics Complex. Russians Elena Murashko and Ivan Nesterenko won bronze, edging France's Alexis Martin and Chloé Gherardi.
The British women, reigning World champions in Women's Group, presented a new look in Maia in the form of Erin Mattinson, Lauren Emmerson and Lucy Atkinson, one of two British Women's Groups selected to compete at the World Championships in China. Their difficulty-packed combined exercise defeated home crowd favorites Jessica Correia, Joana Patrocinio and Susana Pinto (POR) by 0.01, the slimmest of margins. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's experienced Aynur Huseynova, Lala Huseynova and Narmin Ramazanova, already veterans of one World Championship, jumpstarted their journey to another with a bronze medal effort in Portugal.
A single Women’s Pair – France’s Solenn Bardy and Victoire Seon – represented their category in Maia, winning gold in the absence of other competitors but charming the crowd all the same.
The Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Putian (CHN) begin April 1.