Alexa

Reigning bronze medalists Russia go for a younger look at this year's worlds

Reigning bronze medalists Russia go for a younger look at this year's worlds

Elena Zamolodchikova has been to so many gymnastics world championships, she could practically run the meet herself.
Her Russian teammates, however, have a lot less experience.
The 25-year-old Zamolodchikova, a double Olympic gold medalist, has 10 years on the youngest member of Russia's team, largely rebuilt from the squad that won the bronze medal at last year's worlds. Ksenia Semenova is the youngest at 15, but Russia also brought its junior champion Daria Elizarova, and 16-year-old Ekaterina Kramarenko.
"I hope my team will do their best," Zamolodchikova said Wednesday after the Russians finished their podium training session. The competition begins Saturday with the women's preliminaries.
"But it's much too young in gymnastics. It's her first world championships. Same for her," she added, nodding at Elizarova and Semenova.
While part of Russia's youth movement is out of necessity _ veteran Anna Pavlova is injured _ it's also a way to see which athletes will be able to handle the pressure at next year's Beijing Olympics. It's one thing to shine at the national championships or a World Cup meet _ quite another to do it at the biggest sporting event in the world.
Other teams have adopted similar strategies. China only brought three members of the team that won gold last year, leaving Zhang Nan and Zhou Zhuoru behind. Another veteran, Li Ya, is hurt. In their place are three 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old.
The United States is even less experienced, with only two carry-overs from its silver medal squad last year. Former world champion Chellsie Memmel and reigning all-around silver medalist Jana Bieger are recovering from injuries.
But gymnasts have to get experience somewhere. Better here than in Beijing.
"We hope we do well for the Olympic Games," Zamolodchikova said. "It's like general training, this competition, for the Olympic Games."


Updated : 2020-11-30 04:21 GMT+08:00