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Ana Derek

It’s somehow already been a month since the 2020 Olympic Games wrapped up, and this weekend, international competition resumes with the Koper Challenge Cup, with six gymnasts who competed in Tokyo already back and ready to go.

Ana Derek of Croatia, Sofus Heggemsnes of Norway, Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia, Matvei Petrov of Albania, and Giarnni Regini-Moran of Great Britain are all back from their quick breaks to get some early experience before heading back to Japan for world championships, which are set to begin in about six weeks.

Kovtun, Petrov, and Regini-Moran could all be strong podium contenders for worlds this year, with Kovtun and Petrov both expected to compete on their strongest events in Koper. Kovtun could clean up here, competing everything but vault, and Petrov will be one of the biggest threats for gold on pommels. Regini-Moran won’t compete on his standout events – floor and vault – but will go up on all of the rest, a solid way to work himself back into competition mode.

Derek is hoping to bring home medals on beam and floor in Koper, while Mokosova should be a contender for the bars podium, and Heggemsnes – who was limited to just four events at the Olympics due to an injury just weeks before – is still slowly making his way back and will compete pommels, rings, and high bar.

These six aside, there will be a number of excellent athletes here, including lots of great specialists that should make this a very competitive first meet of the new quad. The host country, Slovenia, is sending a total of 13 gymnasts (seven men and six women), including several medal contenders, like Saso Berteoncelj on pommels and Tjasa Kysselef on vault.

Russia has a B team here, but should still be in the running for a number of medals, and it will be interesting to see how 2019 world championships team silver medalist Anastasia Agafonova – who hasn’t competed in nearly two years – looks on bars and beam.

Qualifications will begin on Thursday, September 2, and continue on Friday, September 3, while event finals take place over the weekend. A full list of competitors is below.

Article by Lauren Hopkins