Baku, June 14, AZERTAC
Three Russian gymnasts are favourites to secure themselves a golden double in major team Gymnastics when the action gets under way at the Baku 2015 European Games.
David Belyavskiy, Nikita Ignatyev and Nikolai Kuksenkov won the 2014 European team title, and they now want to add the European Games crown to their collection of titles.
With three gymnasts on the stage and only two results that count, however, Russian head coach Valery Alfosov said that anything can happen.
“It’s hard to talk about our chances at the European Games," Alfosov said. "The competition is different."
Unlike the European and world championships, where a team consists of five gymnasts, the teams at Baku 2015 is only three.
“This is the first time we are competing like this. A lot of good teams will compete here, for example Great Britain, Germany and Ukraine. But we have a good chance for gold.”
A young but strong British squad, including five-time junior European gold medallist Nile Wilson, is one of the teams likely to challenge the Russians on Sunday and Monday.
The competition on Sunday and Monday will also serve as a qualifier for the individual All-Around final and the individual apparatus finals.
The top 18 gymnasts from qualifications - with a maximum of one per NOC - will advance to the individual all-around final.
In the all-around competition, the one to beat will be Verniaiev, who said: “I will do anything to win the title here.”
David Belyavskiy, the 2013 European all-around champion, will be battling for gold at Baku 2015, while Oleg Stepko, who finished fifth at the 2015 European championships, will try to reach the podium for Azerbaijan.
The top six gymnasts on each apparatus - with a maximum of one per NOC - will advance to the apparatus finals which take place on Saturday 20 June.
Three 2015 European champions will headline the apparatus finals - Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece on rings, Verniaiev on parallel bars and Marijo Moznik of Croatia on high bar.