61 individual rhythmic gymnasts and 11 ensembles from 35 countries will participate at the 2021 FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup competition in Sofia. This is one of the few rhythmic gymnastics tournaments since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The competition is extremely important, because the individual gymnasts participate at qualifiers for the forthcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo”, said Bulgaria’s three-time world all-around champion Maria Petrova, who is Vice-President of the Bulgarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation.
“The 2021 FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup competition in Sofia will be held in strict compliance with the instructions of the Regional Health Inspectorate – the competition will be held behind closed doors, the referees will be separated with plastic sheets, crowding will be avoided, the athletes will not stay long on the same carpet, etc. We are entering a new period, but we must cope with the new situation and continue to live.”
Unfortunately, the athletes have to overcome the tension stemming from the important competition and remove the psychological barrier when they compete in an empty sports hall.
“The competitions are quite different when there is no audience in the sports hall”, stressed Maria Petrova. “That is why I told the coaches of Bulgaria’s national team to be prepared for a different and unusual competition”
Some of the most successful rhythmic gymnasts – Dina Averina and Arina Averina (Russia), Katsiarina Halkina (Belarus), the titular ensembles of Russia, Italy, Ukraine and the USA will not arrive in Sofia to take part at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup. Individual gymnasts Boryana Kaleyn and Katrin Taseva will represent Bulgaria at the forthcoming competition. One week ago, they earned gold medals at the National Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship “Julieta Shishmanova”. Bulgaria’s group rhythmic gymnasts Simona Dyankova, Laura Traats, Madlen Radukanova, Stafani Kiryakova and Erika Zafirova will also participate at the 2021 FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup competition in Sofia. All members of Bulgaria’ National Rhythmic Gymnastics Team have already earned quotas for the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
“We are going to witness a very strong competition”, contended Maria Petrova. “Individual gymnasts Anastasia Salos and Alina Harnasko from Belarus, the European champion Linoy Ashram (Israel), gymnasts Milena Baldassari and Sofia Raffaeli (Italy), as well as the Rhythmic Gymnastics Ensembles of Japan and Belarus will arrive in Bulgaria to participate at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup. We will be missing Russia’s individual gymnasts, but this country will participate at the competition with an ensemble. ”
Bulgaria’s rhythmic gymnasts are again aiming at the gold medals. In Maria Petrova’s words, the Bulgarian athletes are not suffering from any injuries and are in good shape.
Are Bulgaria’s gymnasts able to improve further before the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo?
“It was more difficult for the athletes to stay motivated, because there were not that many competitions and the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted their training. However, they took part at the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Kyiv (Ukraine). Now they will participate at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Sofia. Later, they will take part at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup competitions in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Pesaro (Italy). In June, Bulgaria’s coastal city Varna will be hosting the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. All these competitions will help our gymnast be in a better shape. Of course, the Tokyo Olympics is our ultimate goal and we hope that the girls will be in top shape for the Summer Olympics.”
The FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Sofia will be broadcast by one of the national TV channels. It will be also streamed online from Arena Armeec sports.
English version: Kostadin AtanasovPhotos: Facebook /@BGRGfederation and BGNES