Artistic Gymnastics

Ukraine win first men's European team title in Mersin

Hosts Turkey take silver for first team medal with Hungary prevailing in close tussle for bronze.

By ZK Goh ·

Ukraine are the new European men's artistic gymnastics team champions, beating hosts Turkey in Mersin with Hungary third.

With a number of gymnastics powerhouses in Europe – including Russia and Great Britain – opting to skip the event, the stage was set for a showdown between the Ukrainians and the hosts.

However, the top qualifiers were hampered by a late injury to their star all-around hotshot Abdelrahman Elgamal apparently sustained in the warm-ups, forcing the Egyptian-born gymnast to only perform on three of the six apparatus.

Elgamal was replaced on the vault by 40-year-old team captain Umit Samiloglu, who simply looked happy enough to escape without serious injury.

Without their biggest hope, it was never really likely the hosts would catch Ukraine. However, Turkey's silver medal was still the first team medal for the country in men's European Championships history.

For Ukraine, who were competing without Oleg Verniaiev, it was their first medal in the team event since bronze in 2014. It was also their first gold medal, having previously won silver in 1996.

Ukraine went into the final rotation a little over two points clear of Turkey, with both teams finishing on the horizontal bar.

However, falls from both Ahmet Önder and Elgamal all but ended Turkey's hopes of making up that deficit.

Samiloglu, wrapping up the team competition, also came off the bar, but ultimately the hosts can be happy with their efforts.

Petro Pakhniuk, Ukraine's last gymnast on the high bar, was impeccable in his routine, and gave a full double fist-pump after sticking his landing, safe in the knowledge he had earned his team the gold.

With only six nations in the final, competition was fierce for the bronze medal. Bulgaria and Hungary – on paper – looked the most likely teams to challenge for the last spot on the podium. However, errors for Bulgaria saw them drop out of contention.

Instead, Israel – led by world floor exercise silver medallist Artem Dolgopyat – provided the sternest test to the Hungarians.

Ultimately, Hungary held on for bronze by 1.3 points, as they too won their first team medal in Championships history. Bulgaria placed fifth and Austria rounded out the finalists.

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