Ukraine won its first women’s team title at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Mersin, Turkey on Saturday (19 December).
Romania, seeking its eighth title, took second ahead of Hungary.
The competition concludes on Sunday with the individual apparatus finals for juniors and seniors.
Ukraine's 154.663 was just enough to hold off a Romanian team which surged after a disastrous turn on the uneven bars. They posted 154.496 for silver. Hungary's total was 151.597.
Defending European team medallists Russia, France and the Netherlands skipped the event due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last time Ukraine won a medal in the team competition at the Europeans was 2004, when they finished second. Romania last graced the team podium in 2014 when they won the title.
History for Ukraine
Team Ukraine took advantage of a European Championships field decimated by withdrawals to win its first medal at the event since 2010. That weakened field was something Diana Varinska acknowledged when she spoke ahead of the competition to Olympic Channel.
“I will honestly know that isn't a full-fledged European Championship,” she admitted. “Of course, this will be good in any case if I manage to perform well and to win a medal... But I think that the real European championship will be held in April next year.”
Still, she and her team-mates delivered when it counted on Saturday in Mersin. They were clearly delighted as the final score was posted, confirming their victory.
They started solidly, if not spectacularly, on the vault earning a 40.866 total for two full-twisting and one double-twisting Yurchenko vaults.
Ukraine delivered three solid routines on the uneven bars with Varinska rebounding after a tough qualification round. Though she watered down some of her difficulty, she did catch an impressive Tkatchev-half to Jaeger combination to earn a 13.233, her team’s top mark on the event. Their total on the apparatus was 39.099.
Doubt crept in on the balance beam when Anastasia Motak missed a front handspring to front pike acrobatic series first up for the team, but Anastasia Bachnyska and Varinska delivered in the second and third positions. They left the event with 37.066 points.
In the final rotation, all three of Ukraine's routines - from Varinska, Angelina Radivilova and Yelyzaveta Hubareva - proved just enough to pip Romania for the title.
Romanian hopes collapse on uneven bars
Romania jumped out to a 1.000 lead after the first rotation on vault with 16-year-olds Ioana Stanciulescu (13.500) and Silviana Sfiringu (14.200), and London 2012 team bronze medallist Larisa Iordache (14.166) all executing double-twisting Yurchenkos. They posted 41.866 to Ukraine’s 40.866.
But their hopes took a big dent in the second rotation when Stanciulescu came off the uneven bars twice – first on her Tkatchev release move and then after going the wrong way on two pirouetting elements. Her 9.800 final score left Romania with a huge three-point deficit after two apparatus.
Iordache, competing in her first international event in more than three years, gave her team a chance at the title with a stellar effort on balance beam.
Her 14.133 was more than a point better than the next best score on the apparatus in the team final. Her routine, which included a nearly perfect back flip with a full twist and a triple full dismount, looked like the Iordache of old, who finished runner-up in the all-around to American superstar Simone Biles at the 2014 World Championships.
"Thank you everyone for your support," she tweeted after qualifying on Thursday. "I missed gymnastics so much. It was pure joy to compete today."
Iordache was last to go in the final rotation and had a chance to complete her team's comeback, but left out a special requirement in her third tumbling pass.
The 24-year-old has chances in all of Sunday's four apparatus finals and could move to within three of Khorkina’s record.