Euros preview: Ukraine

It’s hard to know where to start. We thought their performance in the last European TFs constituted a meltdown. How little did we know: they had a full set of healthy gymnasts, hit one of four events without any issues, and couldn’t finish any lower than 8th. As it turned out, that was nothing. Even Fomenko’s 8.225 pales in comparison with the next installment.

Then Tokyo happened. It was apocalyptic. 19th place. Them having failed to get anywhere near London wasn’t particularly surprising, though we thought they’d at least make the test event. The worst part was the cruel injury to the divine, only star left in their firmament, Livchikova. In a display of ludicrous Ukraininity, she bust a leg in podium training whilst working a DTY, a vault that she didn’t need to do because they had no chance of finishing in an Olympic qualifying position.

In 2011 she had a 6.2 on beam, and was a realistic medal contender.

In retrospect, it was a blessing in some ways, because if she’d been healthy she’d probably have missed out on bronze to Wieber. Perhaps that would have been the more dignified option, were it not for the fact that Ukraine are now prohibited from giving her their one Olympic spot. Either way, she’s back, she’s the best they’ve got, and this is her only real chance this year to show the world what she can do.

Aside from Livchikova, Ukraine’s only athlete of any real note at the moment is Kononenko. She has an innovative, release heavy set that scores high 14s on the rare occasion she condescends to hit. Here she is frightening the horses in the final of the test event.

A medal this time is probably out of the question, given the strength of the Russians and Dufournet. But she could make the final and, such is the heartbreaking lowering of standards, this would constitute a success.

Other than that, we don’t really know what’s happening with the Ukrainians. They continue to drop like a stone, and no doubt will remain innovative at doing so. We don’t like to include a likely outcome as that’s never a good idea with Ukraine. They will always find some way to astonish.

-By Clara


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