Olympic men’s individual trampoline champion Uladzislau Hancharou will defend his European title in Baku as the 26th European Championships in Trampoline, Double Mini-Trampoline and Tumbling due to start tomorrow.
The Belarusian athlete will have his wife Hanna Hancharova, winner o the 2014 European title as Hanna Harchonak, for company as she contests the women’s individual event at the National Gymnastics Arena in the Azerbaijan capital.
These Championship, which conclude on Sunday (April 15), will be particularly important for the trampolinists as they are the qualifying event for both the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and the 2019 European Games in Minsk.
Russia is sending a powerful team, including European silver medallist Dmitriy Ushakov, Mikhail Melnik, Sergey Azarian and the defending women’s European champion Yana Pavlova.
Britain will count on the experience of Kat Driscoll, competing in her eighth senior Europeans, Luke Strong, Nathan Bailey and 2014 junior European and world champion Izzy Songhurst.
France’s Sébastien Martiny and Allan Morante, fresh from victory at the Dutch Open, will aim for the final as will Azerbaijan’s Ilya Grishunin.
Hancharou will be after a golden double in Baku as he and Aleh Rabtsau, with whom he won the world synchronised trampoline title, will seek a first European gold.
Hancharou won the synchronised title in 2016 with Mikalai Kazak.
THe 2015 World bronze medallists Sébastien Martiny and Allan Morante of France will be form one of the main challenges, with Russia’s Andrey Yudin and Dmitriy Ushakov and Portugal’s Diogo Abreu and Diogo Ganchinho also expected to be well in the mix.
Last year’s World Games silver medallist Mykola Prostorov of Ukraine is partnering with Artem Savchenko in Baku.
Competition will be tight on the women’s side as well.
France’s Marine Jurbert and Léa Labrousse will defend their title against a field that includes past silver medallist Susana Kochesok of Russia, who will partner with Yana Pavlova, and bronze medallists Ana Rente and Beatriz Martins of Portugal.
Russia’s Mikhail Zalomin is the dominant performer in the double mini-trampoline, and the multiple European and world champion, winner of the World Games last year, is looking to defend his title.
Team-mate Aleksander Odintsov could prove his closest rival, and Spain’s Daniel Perez is also expected to challenge.
Sweden’s Lina Sjoeberg, winner of the European title two years ago in Valladolid, looks a huge favourite in the women’s event, but Britain’s Kirsty Way and Russians Polina Troianova will seek to put her under pressure.
Azerbaijan’s hopes are focused on the Tumbling, where Mikhail Malkin, the 2017 age group world champion, although for him to reach the final will be a challenge given a strong field that features 2016 junior champion Rasmus Steffensen and Danish teammate Anders Wesch, Britain’s Greg Townley, Elliott Browne, Kallum Mulhall and Kristof Willerton and Russians Aleksandr Lisitsyn, Maksim Shlyakin, Grigory Noskov and Vadim Afanasev.
Anna Korobeynikova, who took her first world tumbling title with the Russian team back in 1998, will aim to defend her title in Baku.
Also in the hunt for medals are Belgium’s Tachina Peeters, France’s Marie Deloge, Britain’s Lucie Colebeck and Rachel Davies and Russia’s Viktoria Danilenko.