PUTIAN (CHN), APRIL 1 ; The Acrobatic Gymnastics powerhouse Russia hit hard as the World Championships commenced on Friday, topping the standings in three of the five disciplines being contested, reports International Gymnastic Federation (FIG).
With Marina Chernova, the only 2014 World champion still competing today, and several former World Age Group champions in their arsenal, the Russians are well on their way to defending their World team title.
Russian gymnasts led the way in Women’s Pairs (Daria Guryeva and Daria Kalinina), Mixed Pairs (Chernova and Gerogy Pataraya) and Women’s Group (Valeriia Belkina, Yulia Nikitina and Zhanna Parkhomets), while Igor Mishev and Nikolay Suprunov rank second in Men’s Pair.
Chernova, the only gymnast competing in Putian who has already won a World title continues to reign supreme in Mixed Pairs. Whereas veteran Revaz Gurgenidze stood with her atop the podium in 2014, this year the diminutive Chernova is the elder statesman by experience, setting the example for new partner Pataraya. The pair has lived up to its excellent reputation so far, leading American surprise Axel Osborne and Tiffani Williams by a comfortable margin.
Belgians Arne van Gelder and Vincent Casse, chocolate medallists at the World Championships two years ago, are determined not to miss out on their second chance. With two of the three qualification routines complete, van Gelder and Casse are nearly two points ahead in a discipline where tenths often make the difference between gold and nothing. What sets them apart is their finesse: the Belgians received the best scores for artistry among a field that generally pushes the envelope of difficulty.