Evgeny Grebenkin, the new Russian head coach, has just given an interesting interview. You can find it in English here. The first interesting, but perhaps not surprising, point he makes is that he does not have gymnasts to replace the London team..unlike America, who can. The girls will have to compete, except of course Komova, who will be out for about the first half of this year. He also states that they have four good junior gymnasts born 1998-1999 who will be prepared for Rio. They have more than four, but perhaps his words should be taken to mean great, or with great or star potential. Undoubtedly these include Maria Kharenkova, Maria Bondareva and Viktoria Kuzmina. The fourth is harder to pinpoint- I kind of hope it's Daria Spiridonova. Evgeniya Shelgunova, who is now a senior, will be given experience in world cup events. Interesting to see if she lands a Euros spot or not.
Russia's most important senior gymnasts are of course, Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova. Komova is out of Russian Championships and Euros, and too young for Universiade. She will be gunning for worlds. Aliya will probably compete one or two events at Euros, more fully at Universiade and with all guns blazing for worlds. She has said her main priority is Universiade, though that doesn't mean she won't be at Euros..she probably will. She does say other competitions depend on her availability, which I read as doesn't want to say worlds when it's so far away. Ksenia Afanasyeva and Anastasia Grishina could still be core members. It's really hard to know where they are at, especially Grishina. Anna Dementyeva could definitely be a part of major teams if she continues to cope with her growth spurt and really overcomes her former inconsistency. Especially valuable on beam, while Afan if she just continues to be a beam and floor specialist could really compete throughout the quad. Grishina could be right up there as an all-arounder and capable of medalling in three out of four event finals. Hopefully her new coaches can prepare her to realise her full potential.
Who else is there? Anastasia Sidorova, who was injured before London. She's one to watch at Russian Championships to see how useful she could be. Likewise Anna Rodionova, who looks to have grown quite a bit. Maria Paseka is definitely still in the mix, especially as it looks like she's training a much more difficult second vault. Tatiana Nabieva is still on the National Team and a strong prospect for Universiade, but I don't see her making other teams. Maybe as alternate. New seniors Ekaterina Baturina, Yulia Tipaeva and Evgeniya Shelgunova are certainly in the mix, depending on difficulty. Shelgunova remains the brightest prospect, because although she needs a lot of work on her form, she has very good difficulty and a lot of fighting spirit and determination. She could be the Aly Raisman rock for her team this quad I think.
I think at Euros we'll be seeing Aliya Mustafina, Anna Dementyeva, Ksenia Afanasyeva and one of Anastasia Grishina/Evgeniya Shelgunova/Anna Rodionova. Right now I'm leaning towards Shelgunova for it. At Universiade..Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Anna Dementyeva and Ekaterina Kramarenko. Worlds is very tough to say, though I know I already did predictions for it.
Who do you want to see shine for Russia this year? This quad? Do you see Viktoria Komova fully regaining her 2010 self? My own favourites are Mustafina, Demy, Rodionova and further on in the quad, the trio of Bondareva, Kharenkova and Kuzmina. I think Russia will struggle in collecting hardware until 2015, when they have their full battalion.