Meet Lala Kramarenko: Russia's rising star in rhythmic gymnastics
Russia has won every available Olympic gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics since 2000.
And the results of the 2019 junior world championships suggest that this dominance is not likely to end any time soon.
The 14-year-old prodigy Lala Kramarenko and her teammates Anastasia Simakova, Anna Batasova, and Daria Sergaeva led Russia to a clean sweep in Moscow, where the hosts won gold in every discipline.
A new star is born?
Lala Kramarenko is considered the new rising star of a strong Russian team, which already includes world champions Dina and Arina Averina, and Aleksandra Soldatova, Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Daria Trubnikova, and 2018 Grand Prix final all-around bronze medallist Ekaterina Selezneva.
"I take a little bit from all of them. I want to have a career like them," said the two-time junior European champion.
“Compared to last year’s European Championship, my program has become more difficult," Kramarenko added. "I try to do everything right and always raise the bar in front of me.”
Kramarenko is the daughter of former Azerbaijan football goalkeeper Dmitry. In 2014 she moved from Baku to Novogorsk to train with coach Lyaysan Savitskaya.
The teenager, who will be 15 on 6 December and is therefore eligible for the next Olympic Games, could even make the team for Tokyo 2020 according to Margarita Mamun, who was impressed by the girl's qualities and turned her into the leading star of the Russian junior team.
“Everything is possible, it’s hard to predict but it’s enough to recall Evgeniya Kanaeva, who unexpectedly went to Beijing and won Olympic gold," said the reigning Olympic champion, who just announced that she is expecting a baby.
With just two athletes and one alternate going to the Olympics, competition for a place at Tokyo 2020 Japan looks to be fierce.
Russia's head coach Irina Viner said she will select the best gymnasts.
"We have several challengers who will prepare for the adult program and they will compete with our current leaders," the 70-year-old told Sportbox.
"We have a sporting principle: the one who wins, goes."
Russia ended the first edition of the rhythmic gymnastic junior world championships with seven gold medals.
Kramarenko won the individual club and ball final.
Daria Sergaeva claimed the ribbon final.
Anastasia Simakova clinched the title in the individual rope event.
Russia also dominated the five ribbons and five hoops finals and the group all-around competition.
Viner praised FIG (Federation Internationale de Gymnastique) president Morinari Watanabe for organising a junior world championships: "I think that the decision to hold a junior championship every two years will be definitely positive. Then juniors will be able to compete and lead their countries to victory in adult competitions."