Competitive field lines up for 2014's first Acrobatic World Cup06/03/2014
2013 World Games Mixed Pairs gold medallists Alice Upcott and Dominic Smith (GBR) are among the World stars set to compete at this weekend's Maia Acrobatic World Cup in Maia (POR).
As the first of two World Cups leading up to this summer's World Acro Championships in Paris-Levallois (FRA), the stage is set in Maia for both veterans and newcomers to make a big impression in the runup to Worlds.
To that end, large contingents from Great Britain, Russia and France have come to Maia with their sights fixed firmly on the medals to be handed out. The strong British team includes not just Upcott and Smith but Women's Trio Millie Spalding, Elise Matthews and Georgia Lancaster, who took silver at the 2013 World Games in Cali (COL) and will no doubt be looking to upgrade their medal in Paris. The delegation is coached by former World medalist Adam McAssey, who is no stranger to high-level Acro competition himself – he most recently partnered with Upcott's older brother Edward to win silver at the 2012 World Championships in Lake Buena Vista (USA).
The Russian team includes Women's Pair Valentina Kim and Elizaveta Dubrovina, who finished just off the podium at the last World Championships, as well as a host of younger contenders, among them Men's Pairs Maxim and Dmitry Ivanov and Sergei Kuzmin and Ivan Nasanov. While reigning World champion Trio Aigul Shaikhutdinova, Ekaterina Stroynova and Ekaterina Loginova are not on the roster for this World Cup, Natalya Lavrukhina, Natalia Solodinina and Viktoria Sukhareva will be taking their place, the first step towards replicating the glory their countrywomen have already known.
In preparation for hosting the World Championships in their own country, the French are also sending a large group to Portugal. Gymnasts to look out for include young Mixed Pair Camille Curti and Alexis Martin and the Antibes-based Trio of Madeline Bayon, Alizée Costes and Noémie Nadud. Both teams have generated attention as Acro gymnasts to watch in their home country.
In the United States, where Acrobatic Gymnastics is beginning to gain traction, Kiley Boynton and Ryan Ward, who already tasted gold at the 2013 Sofia World Cup, will contend for the Mixed Pairs title.
Maia is one of two FIG World Cups happening before the 2014 Worlds. The second, the Aalen World Cup, will take place in Aalen (GER) in May.
Competition website: http://goo.gl/sF15Po
Nominative registration: http://goo.gl/nqVNE6
Q and A with Rosy Taeymans, FIG Acrobatic Technical Committee President: http://goo.gl/4y5gwY