Rhythmic rulers: Russian gymnasts eye Olympic spots, extended dominance at World Championships

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Russia’s rhythmic gymnasts have arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, to take part in the pre-Olympic World Championships where they are expected to extend their seemingly endless winning streak.

Led by the Averina twins, who have gone unbeaten at all major competitions for several years, the Russian squad will be out to produce yet another golden sweep at the biggest gymnastics competition ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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Along with the Averina sisters, Ekaterina Selezneva will make her debut at the world contest after she replaced Alexandra Soldatova, who sparked concerns after fainting during the World Challenge Cup last week.

The 2019 World Championships is a qualifying event where 16 Olympic berths (not more than two per each nation) will be awarded to the best-performing gymnasts, giving them the right to perform at next year’s Games in Japan.

Apart from individual licenses, five team berths will be contested in Baku this week. However, there will not be much pressure on the Russian group as they booked an Olympic spot last year after winning the all-around event at the World Championship.

Russian gymnasts have dominated rhythmic gymnastics events for almost 19 years, with Yulia Barsukova setting the winning path at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where she won the all-around gold.

Since then Russian gymnasts have dominated on the international stage, winning practically all major competitions, including at the Olympic Games and World Championships.

The 2019 rhythmic gymnastics World Championships will run from September 16 to 22.

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