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Rhythmic Gymnastics Grand Prix comes to Moscow


Moscow staged the 2010 Rhythmic Gymnastics world championships back in September, and now the sport’s top names return to the Luzhniki arena for one of the first big events of 2011. The Moscow Grand Prix is set be the start of an important season for gymnasts from over 30 countries. And now that the format of the competition has changed, it gives more opportunities for younger athletes.

SOUNDBITE, Amina Zaripova, coach (speaking Russian):
"The regulations have changed. Four gymnasts who won medals at the world championships will represent each country - with just two of them then progressing to the second day’s finals. Apart from that, less known girls will compete in the same events on Saturday with a chance to make it trough to the finals, depending on their results."

Russia will boast its best roster at the weekend - with the main quartet of gymnasts featuring all stars, led by Olympic gold medalist and world champion Evgeniya Kanaeva.

SOUNDBITE, Evgeniya Kanaeva, an Olympic champion (speaking Russian):
"I’m very excited to present my new program in front of the home crowd. It’s a new start so of course I want to give a good performance."

SOUNDBITE, Irina Vinner, world famous trainer (speaking Russian):
"There’s no Olympics this year, so Evegeniya is training for the Grand Prix series, primarily, as well as the World championships. She doesn’t need to score points to enter those events, since she is a world and an Olympic champion. She would have to get through qualifying to make the finals, though."

Since the new rules now allow the involvement of youngsters along with the stars, Russia will present its second group of four gymnasts, aiming to compete for a place in Sunday’s individual finals.

SOUNDBITE, Irina Vinner, world famous trainer (speaking Russian):
"We have junior Olympic champion Alexandra Merkulova, Margarita Mamun - who clinched the bronze at a World Cup stage in Montreal a month ago; Yekaterina Donich, a talented young gymnast who is currently training with us. We also have a completely new all around group program, prepared under new coach, Tatyana Sergayeva."

The Junior and Senior competitions as well as the exhibition tournament are also up for grabs at the Luzhniki this weekend. With the Moscow grand prix being just one step towards September’s world championships, in France.

Kevin Maleese, RT


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