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Luiza Filiorianu and Andreea Verdeș at the Rhythmic World Championships

The first year of a new olympic cicle generally represents an opportunity to discover which gymnasts will establish their names as potential World and Olympic medalists, under the newly designed code of points. As many of the previous medalists have now retired from elite gymnastics, the Budapest European Championships in May and the World Championships which have just closed in Pesaro, Italy´s rhythmic gymnastics capital, have served as the background for the establishment of those new rankings.

As expected, Russia continues its domination of the sport, not allowing any other nation to reach for gold in any of the individual events. All 2017 gold medals went to Russian gymnasts, particularly the Averina twins. Dina and Arina are the gymnasts of the year, having split among themselves all the gold medals at stake at the two major championships. Dina, the newly crowned World All-around champion, took home 6 of those and her sister, Arina, won 5. One single gold medal was awarded to a different country than Russia. Italy, the organizer of the World Championships, won the 5 hoop event for Groups on home turf.

Luiza and Andreea back in 2014, when they were competing together at Junior level

Luiza and Andreea back in 2014, when they were competing together at Junior level

2017 was a good year for the Romanian team, with two gymnasts at the beginning of their senior career having participated in both competitions. Ana Luiza Filiorianu, 18, is a Bucharest native training at Steaua Club under one of the most successful Romanian Rhythmic coaches of all time, Maria Gîrbă. She had already made a name for herself in 2016, when she qualified for and competed in the All-around event at the Rio Olympics. This happily interrupted a 20 year hiatus for Romania, which had not qualified a gymnast at the Olympics since Alina Stoica and Dana Carteleanu competed in Atlanta in 1996. In 2017, Luiza made a number of Grand Prix and World Cup finals but her best results came at the European and World Championships. She was 16th in Budapest and 14th in Pesaro.

The Pesaro Worlds did not offer a great start for Luiza, who missed a couple of her routines and thus got scores below her potential. The nerves of such a competition and her desire to do well had a visible impact on her performance during the first days. But this also showed how much Luiza is progressing year after year. She made it to the All-around final from 20th place with a less than perfect performance and received a second chance to correct this in that final. And she did! An excellent competition for her meant she got really close to winning her group (only came second to Japan´s Sumire Kita after some problems with her ribbon routine). She received two 16,150 for her clubs and hoop routines and got closer to that goal of making the World top 10 with a top 14 finish.

Andreea Verdeș, 17, trains in Iași with Cătălina and Constantin Radu and was Romania´s second gymnast at these championships. Together with Luiza, they achieved another performance that had not happened in years – they both qualified to next years Euros directly. Romania and 7 other countries will be sending 2 gymnasts to Valladolid, at the 2018 European Championships. To achieve this, the two had to place among the top 24 gymnasts in Europe (Luiza was 16th and Andreea 24th at the end of that competition).

Andreea and Luiza are gymnasts of the same generation and have competed against each other for years at Junior level. Together, they could form a pretty nice team for Romania for the next couple of years. Coming from a country where most of the talented gymnasts slowly retire from elite when making the senior transition, these two seem to find the motivation to continue training, showing they can make enough progress to do well in major international competitions. Andreea finished her first participation at a World Championship in 33rd place but with encouraging routines.

Watch all of the girls´ routines from these World Championships in the playlist we created here.

The Romanian presence in Pesaro did not end here, though. Alexandra Agiurgiuculese was born and started gymnastics in Iași, at the very same club and under the same coaches as Andreea. She now represents Italy after having moved there when she was 9 and is now the country´s number 1 individual gymnast and World number 8. This was her first year as a senior and she continues to impress with every single competition, managing to win medals in World Cup events and make most of the major event finals in 2017. At the World Championships, she came as close as 4th place in the ribbon final and 5th in the clubs final.

This post is also available in: Romanian