Sofia Raffaeli of Italy is among the favourites to win gold in Baku ©Getty Images

World all-around champion Sofia Raffaeli of Italy, European ball and ribbon champion Boryana Kaleyn of Bulgaria and clubs world champion Darja Varfolomeev of Germany are among the top names to look out for as the 2023 European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships begins here tomorrow.

However, reigning all-around champion Daria Atamanov of Israel will miss the tournament due to injury.

The 17-year-old also skipped the 2022 World Championships in Sofia and is yet to return to competition.

Israel topped the medals table with five gold medals at the previous edition of the event held in Tel Aviv.

The field in Azerbaijan also features 10-time European medallist Boryana Kaleyn of Bulgaria and five-time world medallist Milena Baldassarri of Italy.

Hosts Azerbaijan has their hopes pinned on the junior group.

Their senior group featuring world medallists Gullu Aghalarzade, Laman Alimuradova, Zeynab Hummatova, Kamilla Aliyeva, Yelizaveta Luzan and Darya Sorokinawill also hope to deliver in front of home fans.

Azeri capital Baku was chosen to stage the even last year, after Moscow was stripped of the rights due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Baku has previously hosted the competition in 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2019.

The European Championships begins with the junior group events tomorrow.

The senior competition in Baku is scheduled to start on Thursday (May 18) with the first of two days of individual qualifying rounds.

The individual all-around and apparatus finals, as well as group competition, are set to be held on Saturday (May 20) and Sunday (May 21).

A total of 189 senior and 124 junior gymnasts will be in action here.

Russian and Belarusian Gymnasts will not be competing here after the International Gymnastics Federation postponed the decision until July last week.

This could dent their hopes of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.