During the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021, a get-together with government representatives of the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Baselland, European Gymnastics, the board of the organising committee and the LOC office, as well as the Swiss Gymnastics Federation and the main sponsor UBS, took place in a small setting.
A top event with a fitting last day of competition: The European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Basel were a sporting and organisational success. The extensive Health and Safety precautions proved their worth.
A spectacular series of Sunday finals rounded off the 9th European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, held in Basel, Switzerland. The organisers faced considerable uncertainty while preparing the event, but were happy with the outcome. «We set out to provide the 280 gymnasts with a perfect competition environment despite all the difficulties associated with the pandemic», says Kathrin Amacker, President of the Local Organising Committee.
«We fully achieved our goal, even without spectators on site.»
«These European Championships set a new yardstick», Amacker adds. «Basel has shown the entire continent that it is an excellent host city for large-scale sporting events.» The 700 members of 38 national delegations spent a total of 5800 nights in local hotels. Dr. Farid Gayibov, President of the governing body European Gymnastics, comments very favourably on the entire event: “First of all, I want to express my gratitude to the governments of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land for their continuous support. The Local Organising Committee did a fantastic job in particularly difficult circumstances, working through all the Covid regulations in a professional manner. Furthermore, the St.
Jakobshalle is perfect for gymnastics. The lack of spectators was nicely countered by having a ‘Virtual Live Audience’ on screen in the hall. It was a pleasure to see gymnasts’ parents, family and fans supporting them from far away. The hall lighting and design made for a great show, ideal for TV. We have had positive feedback from around the globe.
For the host nation, the championships were also a memorable sporting success. Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber won gold in the vault, Benjamin Gischard picked up silver for his floor performance and Christian Baumann secured bronze on parallel bars. The competition was a dress rehearsal for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, its crucial role in
athletes’ planning accentuated by the lack of major events over the past year. On the health side, the championships took place at a difficult period, with rising infections in much of Europe. The Organising Committee went to extensive lengths to safeguard everybody involved. Medical staff carried out some 3000 quick-tests and 600 PCR
diagnoses for the 1500 people connected with the event. «As of Sunday evening», reports Managing Director Beat Läuchli, «only four people tested positive, one journalist and three outside the protective ‘bubble’».
Events of this size are only possible with the help of unpaid enthusiasts. In Basel, 600 volunteers clocked up some 16,000 working hours. «We are enormously grateful to them all», declares Kathrin Amacker. «They deserve an honorary gold medal!».
On balance beam, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos from France wins her first title on this apparatus after silver at the European Championships 2019. She performs by far the most difficult routine. Apart from an unsteady landing after the double somersault backwards with a full twist, she shows flawless routine on balance beam. Olympic champion Sanne Wevers from the Netherlands took silver. Like De Jesus Dos Santos, she also increased her routine compared to the qualification and performs without any mistakes. The 17-year-old Anastasiia Bachynska from the Ukraine surprises in third place. She was the second reserve gymnast to reach the final.
Britain’s Jessica Gadirova impressively decides the generation duel on floor and secures the European title at her senior’s premiere. With her flawless routine she even beats top favourite Angelina Melnikova and thus wins a complete set of medals in Basel. By winning the bronze medal, Vanessa Ferrari from Italy proves that she is far from finished with gymnastics. Local hero Giulia Steingruber did not compete, she wants to fully heal her left thigh, preparing for Olympic Games.
The beam final of the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021 promises to be overly exciting. Unfortunately, Larisa Iordache from Romania, the best gymnast of the qualification, will not be able to perform. A kidney infection makes it impossible for her to start. The whole Basel 2021 team wishes Larisa a speedy recovery!
For the first time at this European Championships no Russian flag will be seen at the award ceremony, because no Russian gymnast could qualify for the final on balance beam. Sanne Wevers, the Olympic champion, is one of the favourites. This circle is quite large: In qualification, there were only 0.067 points between Wevers in second place and Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos from France in sixth place. De Jesus Dos Santos was the best European on beam placing 5th at the World Championships in Stuttgart. In between there were other top gymnasts with Amelie Morgen from Great Britain, Lieke Wevers from the Netherlands, and Martina Maggio (Italy). Latvia’s Elina Vihrova and Marine Boyer from France also reached the final. Poland’s Marta Pihan-Kulesza would have been the first reserve gymnast, but she injured herself on floor in qualification. Get well soon! Instead, Anastasiia Bachynska from Ukraine will move up, a young gymnast who can directly compete for a medal if she eliminates her wobbles from the qualification. Anything can happen on the ten centimetre wide and five metre long beam.
Angelina Melnikova is the clear favourite on floor: in qualification as well as in the all-around final she performed a difficult routine without any major mistakes and received the highest score in both competitions. European all-around champion Viktoriia Listunova (15 years) from Russia was also convincing in both performances on floor in Basel. Jessica Gadirova (16) from Great Britain placed third in qualification and confirmed her floor skills in the all-around final. Behind her were two experienced gymnasts, Vanessa Ferrari (30) from Italy and Giulia Steingruber (27) from Switzerland. Both did not compete in the all-around final and saved themselves for the apparatus finals. It worked out for Steingruber on vault yesterday. Also competing Martina Maggio (Italy), Kim Bui (Germany) and the Romanian Maria Ceplinschi. The latter replaced her team-mate Iordache.
Andrey Medvedev from Israel goes into the vault final as the best qualifier. The first six gymnasts on Thursday all had a starting score of 5.6 points in their two vaults, so the smallest bounces on landing will decide the medals. Can European all-around champion Nikita Nagornyy extend his streak and win a medal in his fifth final? In the qualification he was second, he perfectly pinned his vault in the all-around final. Artur Davtyan from Armenia is an excellent all-around gymnast, in Basel he only concentrates on vault and pommel horse, which he won yesterday by the way. With the British Giarnni Regini-Moran and Courtney Tulloch, Loris Frascas from France, Yahor Sharamkou from Belarus and the Ukrainian Igor Radivilov, otherwise only vault experts are in the final.
On parallel bars it is almost impossible to predict, the field is too balanced. With Lukas Dauser from Germany, winner of the qualification, the two Russians Nikita Nagornyy and David Belyavskiy, as well as Ferhat Arican from Turkey, half of the gymnasts in this final have already won a European medal on this apparatus. The Ukrainian Illia Kovtun is also an expert on parallel bars as European junior champion. Ahmet Onder, the reigning vice world champion on parallel bars, will also be competing. In qualification, the two Swiss gymnasts Christian Baumann (third) and Pablo Brägger (sixth) presented themselves strongly. A medal at the home European Championships is of course a great incentive. Dauser (6.7) and Nagornyy (6.4) improved their difficulty in the all-around final, Dauser made a mistake and had to leave the parallel bars.
Andreas Toba, another German, won the high bar qualification. He and Pablo Brägger (European high bar champion 2017) had the highest starting score with 6.3 points. Christian Baumann is also in the high bar final. He finished 4th on Thursday, behind Italy’s Carlo Macchini. With Krisztian Balazs, Hungary’s rising star is in his first apparatus final at the seniors. In 2016 and 2017, David Belyavskiy (Russia) won bronze on high bar. The two Turks Ahmet Onder and Adem Asil complete the last final of the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021.
On floor, Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy wins his second title at these European Championships. His picked triple somersault at the beginning of his routine was spectacular, a maximum difficulty. With 6.8 points in the difficulty score, no other finalist can keep up. Benjamin Gischard comes second with a super routine and hardly any wobbles in his landings. The judges rewarded this with the highest execution score of all eight gymnasts. Nicola Bartolini from Italy also shines with good execution and wins bronze despite a low difficulty score.
Giulia Steingruber is back on the international stage with her tenth European Championship medal: At the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021, Steingruber wins gold on vault at a home European Championship. As in Bern 2015, Steingruber wins the European vault title. Jessica Gardirova from Great Britain won silver and Angelina Melnikova from Russia took bronze.
Surprise on pommel horse: Artur Davtyan from Armenia wins the title ahead of Nikita Nagornyy, who wins his third medal. Both get the same final score, as Davtyan gets the higher execution score, he wins gold. The bronze goes to Joe Fraser from Great Britain.
The uneven bars final is spectacular, but the result is less surprising after the previous performances of the gymnasts at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021: Angelina Melnikova wins gold ahead of her team mate Vladislava Urazova, who competes in her first senior final. Bronze goes to Emelie Morgan from Great Britain.
On still rings, the Greek powerhouse lives up to his role as favourite: Eleftherios Petrounias deservedly wins gold by a clear margin. Silver goes to Nikita Nagornyy, who wins a medal in all competitions so far at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021. Salvatore Maresca wins the second bronze medal of the day for Italy.
The first day of the apparatus finals offers many exciting competitions.
On floor, the two Russians Nikita Nagornyy and Kirill Prokopev are the clear favourites. Both entered the final with the same score. Benjamin Gischard, a Swiss, has good chances of winning a medal. He qualified for the final in third place, 0.4 points behind the two Russians, but also only 0.144 ahead of the eighth place. Yahor Sharamkou from Belarus keep up with Nagornyy and Prokopev with his difficulty score.
Joshua Nathan (Great Britain) performed the most difficult routine of all eight finalists with an difficulty score of 6.9 points. That was enough for second place behind the Irishman and absolute pommel horse specialist Rhys McClenaghan, who received the best execution score from the judges. Predictions are particularly difficult on pommel horse; one wrong grip and the medal dream is over.
Olympic champion Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) showed the most beautiful and the most difficult routine in qualification. He is the favourite for the final. The seven gymnasts behind him were within 0.233 points of each other same story here, anything is possible. Ibrahim Colak from Turkey, the reigning World and European Champion, is in the final. Except for Nagornyy, all gymnasts are real experts on the rings.
For the women’s vault the matter seems clear: Jessica Gardirova from Great Britain, the Russian Angelina Melnikova and Giulia Steingruber at her home European Championships will decide the medals among themselves. At least that is the theory. The three were within 0.051 points in the qualification. After that, there was a gap of 0.466 points. Even the slightest wobble in the landing will decide the colour of the medals.
Melnikova and her team-mate Vladislava Urazova will have to be beaten on the uneven bars. However, Melnikova wants to proove her expertise after her fall in the all-around final and the gold medal she missed out on. Urazova, on the other hand, had a break on Friday. With Elisabeth Seitz (GER), Johanna Adlertag (SWE), Giorgia Villa (ITA), Alice D’Amato (ITA) and Amelie Morgan (GBR) the beam final ist loaded with big names. Filipa Martins from Portugal was a bit of a surprise, but she also showed a fantastic routine in the qualification. Let the flight show begin!
Russia’s Nikita Nagornyy confirms his status as Europe’s best gymnast and sets a big exclamation before the Olympic Games. He dominates the all-around final of the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021 from the very first apparatus and secured the gold medal with 88.032 points. On all six apparatuses he was at least among the best three gymnasts, on floor, rings, vault, and high bar he achieves the highest score of the day. He covers up for a tiny mistake on pommel horse in world-class style. Nagornyy thus wins his second European Championships all-around title and will travel to Japan in summer as the reigning World and European Champion. With this form, the 24-year-old is the absolute top favourite for the Olympic gold medal.
Behind him, David Belyavskiy makes the second Russian double victory on this day perfect. He is already 2.168 points behind his compatriot Nagornyy after six apparatus. For the Russian veteran it is the 16th medal at the continental championships.
17-year-old Illia Kovtun surprises in third place with 3.168 points behind the leader. The Ukrainian improves by almost 3.5 points compared to the qualification yesterday, Thursday. Only in the last rotation of the competition he catches Ahmet Onder from Turkey. Onder misses the bar after the Cassina on high bar and misses his first individual medal at the European Championships by 1.266 points. His teammate Adem Asil cancels the competition after the pommel horse due to a shoulder injury.
Pablo Brägger from Switzerland finishes the competition in a strong fifth place. He is 2.599 points behind the podium. After a fall on his second apparatus, the pommel horse, he starts a strong recovery, which ended with the second-best high bar routine of the competition in fifth place. With Volodymyr Kostiuk (17 years/Ukraine) in seventh place and Jake Jarmn (19 years/Great Britain) in tenth place, two youngsters make it into the top ten on their senior debut.
For Christian Baumann from Switzerland the competition started in a very unfortunate way: he slipped on vault. He finishes the competition uninjured, but due to the zero score on vault he places 23rd. With the third best bars and high bar routine, he should still have a good feeling going into these two apparatus finals tomorrow.
Viktoriia Listunova wins the gold medal in the all-around at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021 in her first senior competition. The 15-year-old shows four great routines without any major mistakes and scores a total of 56.731 points. On uneven bars (14.466 points) and balance beam (14.066 points) she got the highest score of the day. Angelina Melnikova wins silver, 1.299 points behind Listunova. In the qualification the order of the two Russians was reversed. But Melnikova made two mistakes in the final: First she fell from the uneven bars, then also on the balance beam. On floor (14.133 points) and vault (14.733 points) she achieves the best score of the day. Jessica Gadirova from Great Britain surprises in third place. The 16-year-old athlete scored 55.1 points and shines especially on vault (14.6 points) and beam (13.5 points) with the second-best score of the entire competition.
Another British gymnast, Amelie Morgan, finishes in 4th place. The two German gymnasts Elisabeth Seitz and Kim Bui come fifth and seventh. In between is Martina Maggio from Italy. Lieke Wevers and Naomi Visser from the Netherlands follow in eighth and ninth place. Jutta Verkest (Belgium) completes the top ten.
Visser and Verkest only joined the competition today: Larisa Iordache, Vanessa Ferrari and Giulia Steingruber, three of the best ten gymnasts from the qualification, cancelled their participation in the final. Ferrari and Steingruber have been struggling with injuries in recent years and will probably concentrate on the apparatus finals at the weekend. In qualification, Steingruber already competed with a heavily bandaged thigh. Iordache is still in hospital after a kidney infection.
The Top 10 all-around:
She is the clear favorite: Angelina Melnikova from Russia. The long break from competing has obviously not affected her. After winning bronze in the all-around at the World Championships in Stuttgart in October 2019 she wants to increase her medal collection here in Basel 2021. She won the qualification ahead of her teammates Viktoriia Listunova and Vladislava Urazova. Due to the two-nation rule, Urazova will not be able to compete in the all-around finals.
Compared to the qualification, Melnikova even has room to improve: She fell from the balance beam shortly after starting her exercise. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old was 0.526 points ahead of Listunova, all-around winner of the 2019 World Junior Championships, who was competing in her first senior event. She also fell on beam.
Which gymnast are also figthing for the medals? Larisa Iordache finished fourth, although according to the Romanian federation she sufferd of fever and pain the evening before the competition. She was then diagnosed with a kidney infection in hospital. In best shape (she also fell from the beam) she can certainly be a candidate for the podium. Two Italian gymnasts finished in the top ten, both within striking distance of a medal: Martina Maggio qualified in fifth place and Vanessa Ferrari in seventh. Amelie Morgan from Great Britain came in between the Italians, her team member Jessica Gadirova (bad fall on beam) was eighth, one point behind Iordache. The top ten were completed by Carolann Heduit from France and Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland.
Larisa Iordache, Giulia Steingruber and Vanessa Ferrari did not start! Steingruber and Ferrari are saving themselves for the apparatus finals, Iordache is not feeling any better yet.
Four questions to Daniel Gyger, Head of Partnering and member of the Executive Board of itec.
The European Artistic Gymnastics Championships Basel 2021 are in full progress. How would you describe your daily routine?
In a good mood, annoying the team until 8 o’clock in the morning. Then I go where I’m needed. My trainers are my most important tool. The whole day is full of variety due to the great collaboration with security, media, LOC, etc.
At some point the day ends. The time is less important, because the end of the day ends with the last day’s duty.
What are the biggest technical challenges?
The short-notice requests, always pose a challenge. The planned and scaled network and internet requirements have changed a lot in the last few days. In addition, of course, the support needed at short notice from the various channels such as the website, streams, etc., is also a challenge.
How many hours are you on your feet every day?
That can vary a lot. I usually start around 7am and finish sometime between 9pm and midnight, for 2 weeks, 7 days a week.
What was the best moment during this european championship week?
I can hardly name a single moment, as there were many of them. Especially the always funny and great moments with the whole team. No matter how stressful it is at certain times of the day, everyone works and is always in a good mood. The whole Covid organisation is always an issue and a big challenge.
I wish I could organise such an event with this team again.