Russians dominate Junior Europeans

2008 Junior European Champion Tatiana Nabieva of RussiaAll of a sudden, gymnastics team competitions are being won by the margins of basketball games. And not even close basketball games.

The Russian juniors held off second-place France by more than 10 points to capture the Junior European team title today in Clement-Ferrand, France, International Gymnast Magazine reported.

Ridiculous. If the Russian juniors, once they became Russian seniors, held as much dominance, well, the team picture come Beijing might look a bit different than it does at the moment.

As it is, it appears Russia will fight the Romania for the team bronze. It might be the biggest team fight of the Games in women’s gymnastics. Neither country has done particularly well against the Chinese and Americans this quad.

But imagine if the Russian juniors, perennial champions at competitions like the junior Europeans, could do as well in the senior ranks. For some reason, they don’t. The two big breakout Russian stars from the 2006 Europeans, Irina Isayeva and Daria Elizarova, simply haven’t competed much during the past two years.

Elizarova, whose form reminded some of the great Lilia Podkopayeva, was the alternate for the 2007 World Championship team and didn’t compete. Isayeva has been plauged by injuries and in the few competitions she’s been in has seemed to struggle with endurance.

As it is, add 13-year-old Tatiana Nabieva to the list of Russian up-and-comers for 2012. Nabiyeva, (60.850) bested teammate Aliya Mustafina (60.3) to take the junior all-around crown in France, while Frenchwoman Youna Dufournet won bronze (60.225).

Tatiana Nabieva, 2007 Gymnix International, Floor Exercise:

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