Gymnastics took the spotlight in Glasgow


Gymnastics took the spotlight in Glasgow

August 31, 2018

Highlights of the Women’s and Men’s European Championships at Glasgow2018

Glasgow’s magnificent SSE Hydro played a perfect host for two weeks of thrilling gymnastics action. First, the women hit the floor, dazzling the crowd. The week after, the men followed suit. With a heightened TV and media interest, our gymnasts truly enjoyed the spotlight.

With so many highlights delivered in Glasgow, it was tough to make a selection of eight for this article, so don’t be offended if your favourite moment didn’t make the cut… Our respect and gratitude go out to all gymnasts who gave the best of themselves!


Historic performance for Ireland

That Rhys Mcclenaghan counts as a huge talent, we have known for many years already. In 2016, he became the first Irish gymnast to medal at a European Championships, winning the silver in the junior on his forte, pommel horse. At the Commonwealth Games in April, Mcclenaghan beat Olympic Champion Max Whitlock on his way to the gold medal. In Glasgow he qualified in first place to the final. No sign of nerves from the youngster in the final as he swung to a comfortable lead with 15.300, easily outdoing his more experienced rivals. Gold, and the Irish national anthem playing, a truly historic moment! Mcclenaghan was ecstatic: "I said at the start I wanted to make history for Ireland again, and why not make it the gold? And here's the gold to prove it. I mean business when I come out here, and it's all paid off. I enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the crowd, I really thrive on this energy. Even fear. It's scary, going in these big competitions, but I thrive on that, I can use it in my gymnastics."


Giorgia Villa leads Italian talented next generation

The junior teams of Italy performed brilliantly in Glasgow, showing off their potential. Nicolo Mozzato won the all-around and high bar titles while helping his team to conquer the bronze medal while teammate Edoardo De Rosa claimed the victory on pommel horse. The girls were even more impressive: twins Alice and Asia D’Amato, Giorgia Villa, Elisa Iorio and Alessia Federici posted the highest scores on vault and bars securing the junior team title. The big star was Villa though as she also won the all-around title on the same day. In event finals she added gold on beam, silver on vault and on floor to her collection. Asia D’Amato won the gold on vault. A truly talented team that will make its first steps on the senior stage next year!


New Prince and Princess of Russia

2014 junior European all-around Champion Angelina Melnikova easily made the team since she turned senior in 2016. But consistency has been an issue, even though she won the European title on floor last year. In Glasgow, a confident leader stepped out on the floor. She hit all 4 events in the team final ensuring Russia’s top score on all 4 events and a comfortable cruise to victory for her team, four points ahead of silver medallists France. "It feels great. Qualifications were a bit stressful, but of course we all helped each other and the team was very united, and today we managed to overcome all our difficulties. We're happy and we have no words."

In the men’s competition, Artur Dalaloyan emerged as the new star. His efforts in the team final helped Russia secure their third European title in a row. In event finals, he excelled. First, he took the bronze medal on floor despite making a small mistake. Then he successfully defended his title on vault. But it was not to be all yet, Dalaloyan swung to gold on parallel bars as well: "I expected to win a medal, but I didn't expect to get the gold medal. My goal was not to make mistakes. When I saw that David [Belyavskiy] had made a mistake I saw the opportunity to win the gold medal."


The Lord of the Rings strikes again

European title number 4 is in the pocket! Greece’s rings master Eleftherios Petrounias left no doubt about it … he still is the best and no one can beat him: "The one I just won was my best one. Just because I wasn't prepared as I hoped to be [because of a small injury on his left shoulder] and I still managed to win. But it's also the nicest because it is my fourth." This victory marks year 4 of rings dominance in which Petrounias has won every major rings title available. Up next … the World Championships in Doha (QAT)!


Cats galore

Celine Van Gerner performed on three events in the team final which saw The Netherlands win their first team medal since 2002. "This is just amazing. I am hardly ever nervous competing on uneven bars [the Dutch team's last event], but today I was so nervous. We all knew we had to perform good routines and I am happy we all managed to do so. To share this medal with our team is just so cool."

But her real big performance came in the floor final when she went all in: outfit, hair and make-up to match her floor choreography to the music of Cats. Entertaining and original, I’m sure that Van Gerner has many new fans!


Belgian triple

In 2005, Aagje Vanwalleghem earned Belgium’s first European medal, a bronze on vault. Last year in Cluj, Nina Derwael won the first ever gold medal. Fast forward to 2018 and the Belgian ladies return home with not 1, not 2 but three medals! Derwael retains her bars gold and adds silver on beam while Axelle Klinckaert and her excellent Harry Potter floor routine clinch the bronze medal. Being side-lined by injuries, Klinckaert is happy to have delivered: "After all the hard work I did this is really great. It is a bronze medal with a golden lining. I am really happy."


Hegi’s strength

The Swiss team suffered several injuries leading up to this event and was not at full strength but there was no stopping Oliver Hegi. On parallel bars he won the bronze medal and on high bar he succeeds his teammate Pablo Braegger as the European Champion: "I didn't expect it, especially the bronze medal in the parallel bars. I was shocked, I couldn't be happier. Actually the parallel bars was just a warm-up for the horizontal bar because that's my specialty. It came completely unexpected."


Turkey’s rise

The gymnasts from Turkey have been making a name in the World Cup circuit for years. In Glasgow they competed as a team and they excelled, reaching the team final in fifth place. They also qualified to four individual finals. Rings specialist Ibrahim Colak won the silver medal:  "[Yesterday] was the first time we were in the team finals. We targeted being in it, but not (winning) medals. There were some problems in the competition, but we are happy with what we did.” We’ll definitely see more of this in the future!