Artistic Gymnastics

Turkey's talented trio lead qualifying at men's European Championships

Ibrahim Colak, Ahmet Onder and Ferhat Arican hope to give the host country its first European team title on Saturday.

By Scott Bregman ·

Hosts Turkey topped the team standings during qualification at the 2020 Men’s European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Mersin on Thursday (10 December).

Originally scheduled for early May in Baku, Azerbaijan, the event was delayed and moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several nations including Russia, Great Britain and France, which took the last European team medals in 2018, withdrew from the competition which is no longer a Tokyo 2020 qualifier.

Those pull-outs have opened the door for others to make history with Turkey poised to take advantage having had a previous best of seventh in the team event in 2018.

Led by world still rings champion Ibrahim Colak, world parallel bars silver medallist Ahmet Onder and European parallel bars bronze medallist Ferhat Arican, Turkey posted a 251.594 to lead the senior men's team standings.

Ukraine, without star Oleg Verniaiev, was more than a point back at 250.462. Hungary rounded out the top three at 241.194.

According to a translation from Gymnovosti, Rio 2016 parallel bars gold medallist Verniaiev is missing the competition to defend his PhD and recover from some minor injuries.

“First of all, Oleg is finishing his dissertation – he needs to defend it," said Ukraine's head coach Gennady Sartynsky. "Second, he had minor injuries, that’s why he didn’t come with us to the European Championships.”

The team final is scheduled for Saturday, 12 December, beginning at 3 p.m. local time.

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If Turkey fails to come up with its first European gold on Saturday, they’ll have 10 more chances in Sunday’s individual apparatus finals.

Colak was the top qualifier on the rings, where his gold medal at the 2019 World Championships was a historic first for his country.

His 14.633 score in qualifying shows that he is back to his best after surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon earlier this year.

Team-mate Arican is the top qualifier on the parallel bars by a whopping .833 margin: 15.333 to Petro Pakhnyuk of Ukraine's 14.600. It was the highest score on any event during qualifications and he'll be a strong favourite to improve on his bronze from last year.

Though there is no senior all-around final at this year's championships, Abdelrahman Elgamal, also of Turkey, posted the top combined total at 83.232.

Other top qualifiers were Yahor Sharmkou of Belarus on the floor; Croatia's Robert Seligman on pommel horse, (Croatia); Ukraine's Igor Radivilov on vault and Tin Srbic on the horizontal bar.

Croat Srbic is the 2017 world high bar champion and executed a difficult sequence of connected release moves before nearly sticking his full-twisting, double layout dismount to earn a score of 14.333.

Yesterday's junior competition went to Ukraine with 239.128, followed by Hungary (232.494) and Bulgaria (228.361).

Friday will see the junior men’s all-around medals decided with Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun the top qualifier to the final.