European Championships: Emotional memories inspire gymnast

Eleftherios Petrounias' return to Glasgow has a special meaning

Eleven days. Seven sports. Two host cities. The first-ever European Championships boasts around 4,500 of the continent’s finest athletes.

Participants are competing across a wide-range of Olympic sports: aquatics, gymnastics, athletics, triathlon, cycling, rowing and golf. The event will be held every four years.

The inaugural edition will be co-hosted by Glasgow and Berlin.

The German capital is hosting the athletics, while the rest of the events are located in and around Scotland's largest city.

August 2
AthleticsQG G G G G G
Synchronised SwimmingGGGGG
Open Water SwimmingGGGG
RoadG G G
Mountain BikeG
GymnasticsMen's Artistic GymnasticsQG G
Women's Artistic GymnasticsQGG
G means gold medal event. Q means qualification event. Table adapted from Wikipedia.

With so many athletes participating, it can be a little overwhelming.The German capital is hosting the athletics, while the rest of the events are located in and around Scotland's largest city.

But the event promises both quality and quantity with many Olympians calling this the highlight of their 2018 competitve calendar.

Here are five athletes who are vying for glory (and your attention).

Eleftherios Petrounias

These European Championships in Glasgow will have a special meaning for Olympic gold medallist Eleftherios Petrounias.

The Rio rings winner lost his father just two weeks before becoming world champion in Scotland in 2015.

This victory paved the way for a spectacular Olympic performance for Greece in Brazil.

"When these difficult things start happening in your life, you need to choose between two things: to give up on everything or to go harder," he said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

"I chose to go harder."

Eleftherios Petrounias on the rings at Rio 2016
Eleftherios Petrounias on the rings at Rio 2016Eleftherios Petrounias on the rings at Rio 2016

It's the first time that Petrounias has competed in the city since his big win there three years ago.

Now the Greek is aiming to go unbeaten for the next two years.

"In gymnastics, (we) have three European championships and two world championships (until Tokyo 2020) so I want to go without losing until that time.

"And, of course, (I want) to win in Tokyo 2020."

Injury problems could hamper his Scottish return though.

"For the last six months, I have been struggling with a shoulder injury but I am really positive.

"I really want to make it happen in Glasgow."

Dina Asher-Smith

The British sprinter has been singled out by Neil Black, British Athletics performance director, as one to watch.

The Rio bronze medallist is this year’s leading European runner in the 100m and 200m.

She hopes to run in both of those events plus the 4×100m relay.

“I think the time has come for Dina to really demonstrate where she’s at," Black told Athletics Weekly.

"That's the one that is going to be most exciting, to see Dina hopefully winning medals at a championship and using it as the platform to go on and really raise her game even further into the future.”

The speedster is also a history buff.

She graduated in the subject (with honours) from King's College London in 2017.

Katinka Hosszu

It will be interesting to see how the three-time Olympic gold medallist performs in what is the biggest set of races in her 2018 calendar.

She has not entered into the 400m individual medley.

It was her performance in that event which captured the attention of the world in Rio 2016.

She smashed the world record by over two seconds to win her first ever Olympic gold medal.

This season though the Hungarian had a very public falling out with her husband and coach Shane Tusup.

The 29-year-old has opted to swim in the 100m and 200m backstroke plus the 200m individual medley in Scotland.

Hosszu remains one of the biggest draws of the entire championships but recent results have not seen her reach her previous heights.

In her backstroke events, she's only ranked 48th and 54th in the world for the 2017–18 season.

Her form in the 200m IM is still one of the best.

Great Britain’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor is the only European swimmer to have swum faster than Hosszu in 2018.

Sanne Wevers

There aren't many people who can say they outscored Simone Biles in a gymnastics event at Rio 2016.

Sanne Wevers is part of a very select group who can.

The Dutch gymnast stood on top of the podium for the balance beam with USA's Laurie Hernandez and Biles taking silver and bronze respectively.

Now 26, Wevers is hoping to capture her first European title.

To do so, she'll have to take on Germany’s top female gymnast, Pauline Scheafer. After representing her country in Rio, Scheafer went on to collect balance beam gold at last year’s world championships in Montreal.

She's also looking for her first European victory.

Max Whitlock

The double Olympic champion has fond memories of Glasgow after a successful Commonwealth Games in the city.

He took home three gold medals in 2014 which formed the base of his excellent Olympic performance.

Whitlock won the floor and pommel horse finals Rio 2016 and, a year later, he successfully defended his pommel world title.

Max Whitlock on pommel horse CWG 2018
Max Whitlock on pommel horse CWG 2018Max Whitlock on pommel horse CWG 2018

But in April’s Commonwealth Games, he was forced to settle for silver behind Northern Ireland's Rhys McClenaghan.

The nineteen-year-old, who will represent the Republic of Ireland in Glasgow, hasn’t been shy about the rivalry.

Whitlock didn't respond online, but mentioned McClenaghan in an interview with Team GB.

"If there weren't younger guys coming through then there would be a big problem. Success breeds success," Whitlock said.

"It's great to have people like Rhys coming through and I gain so much motivation from it.

"It pushes me. I thrive off the challenge and I can’t wait to get out there."

Eleftherios Petrounias was this week’s big interview on the Olympic Channel Podcast. Each Wednesday we reach into the mind of someone Olympic. We want you to think like an Olympian.

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