As the country’s seventh largest city, Szczecin is home to the largest seaport in Poland. It also played a huge role in the anti-communist uprisings of 1970 and the emergence of the Solidarity trade union in the 1980s. Now, in more settled times, it’s also a well-known place to see first-class gymnastics.
That’s exactly what will happen between the 10th and 14th of April when the eighth European Men and Women’s Artistic European Championships takes centre stage.
Strong Team Announced
Great Britain will expect to do very well given the sport’s governing body has recently announced a strong team in both sections of this enthralling competition. There’s little doubt Defending European all-around champion Ellie Downie will want to construct a performance opening the door to more medal glory. At the peak of her powers she’ll certainly provide spectators with some moves to remember.
Nottingham born Ellie will be joined by the reigning European all-around bronze medallist and first year senior, Amelie Morgan, who claimed five medals last year – the most medals won by a British junior female gymnast.
Also standing out for women will be the 2018 British All-Round Champion Kelly Simm from Southampton. In 2014, Kelly became English Floor and British Vault Champion, and later went on to win Team Gold with England at the Commonwealth Games.
A dark horse will be Alice Kinsella who returned from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with a full set of Gold, Silver and Bronze. Improving all the time, there will be more medals to come without question as her career pivots toward Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
Out in Force
As for the men, the big names are out in force and ready to take on the best Europe can throw at them. First, Max Whitlock MBE from the South Essex club and five-time Olympic medallist. Now a busy dad, Max remains at the peak of his powers, so don’t rule out more medals for Britain’s most successful gymnast. European 2017 all-around bronze medallist James Hall from Pegasus will join Max with eyes firmly set on raising his own personal bar even further. Our strength really comes to the fore with the inclusion of 20-year-old City of Birmingham star Joe Fraser, who helped win a team Silver in last year’s event, reaching a couple of finals along the way.
Dom Cunningham is another City of Birmingham stalwart with terrific ability and a liking for the big occasion. A team gold winner at the Commonwealth Games and European Floor Champion in 2018, Dom is sure to go very close again. It really is about trying to improve your own performance even more – that’s the beauty of gymnastics competitions. It will be a sentiment shared with Pegasus’s shining light, Courtney Tulloch, whose coach Ionut Trandaburu has been working hard with the star with European glory in mind. A Commonwealth silver medallist on vault, the 23-year-old is in top form going into this event.
Back from Injury
Members of the South Essex club will also be rooting for Brinn Bevan, current British All-Around Champion who came back from injury to record well-earned success. They’re a tough lot these gymnasts, and Brinn will be hoping to keep the momentum going in Poland.
The 7,403 capacity Azoty Arena is a multi-event venue and host to a number of other sports including tennis, volleyball and basketball. It’s a modern place situated in a pleasant area of Szczecin. It will, without doubt, offer a terrific atmosphere for the gymnasts, and spectators are not too far away from the action. You’ll find a lively vibrant city here at the best of times given a large population of students and some incredible architecture both old and new.
Athletes are always guaranteed the warmest of welcomes, and these championships will see Europe’s best senior gymnasts battle for individual titles in all-around and apparatus finals.
Spring is a great time in the sport of gymnastics, and with each passing event, Tokyo 2020 gets ever nearer. Performances become everything at this crucial stage of any Olympic cycle. For the British team, it’s a case of bring it on.
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