Welcome to the era of Averina. The Averina twins have dominated the sport of rhythmic gymnastics since Rio 2016.
At the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia they have been imperious again. Dina has won five gold medals, including the important individual all-around, while Arina has secured a first and two third-place finishes.
Many siblings derive pleasure from competing with each other, and these Russian sisters were no different growing up.
However, after years of head-to-head battles, their competitive focus shifted away from each other and solely towards winning medals for Russia.
So successful was this knew outlook, that the 20-year-olds now hate to be apart - which doesn't help some judges who still struggle to tell the difference between them!
Get to know the dominant duo – from how to tell them apart to how they got their start in the sport.
Dina and Arina are identical twins, right down to matching right-side moles. But, there are two ways to tell who’s who: after hitting herself with a club, Arina has a small scar above her right eye.
And that mole. Arina’s is lower than her sister’s and located below her earlobe.
NOT READY FOR RIO
Russia has dominated rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympic Games. They’ve won the all-around title at each of the last five Olympic Games, and the podium has included two Russian or Soviet athletes in seven of the nine Olympic appearances.
The Averina twins were age-eligible for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but the competition was so fierce, they were left home. Instead, Margarita Mamun surprised for the gold medal with compatriot Yana Kudryavtseva taking silver. The legendary Russian head coach Irina Viner told media she was saving the twins for after Rio, her ‘secret weapon’ she said.
RUNS IN THE FAMILY
In addition to Dina and Arina’s incredible athletic talents, their whole family has been involved in sport. Their mother, Ksenia, was a gymnast and their father, Alexey, played football. The twins’ older sister Polina, who was part of the inspiration for their gymnastics careers, trained in rhythmic for 12 years and is now a coach and judge.
In their youth, they “played” gymnastics with Dina as 2004 Olympic champ Alina Kanaeva and Arina in the role of Athens silver medalist Irina Tchachina. Instead of clubs, the sisters used socks.
PARTNERS IN COMPETITION
Since the retirement of Mamun and Kudryavtseva, the Averinas have dominated the sport.
The duo combined for the maximum 10 medals and a sweep of the golds at the 2017 World Championships. Dina took gold in the all-around, hoop and clubs, while Arina was the ribbon and ball champion.
The tables were turned at the European Championships where Arina won the all-around title. Dina settled for silver.
“This European Championship was really hard for us but despite all the injuries, successful and not successful performances, we tried to give our 100%,” the duo said via their shared Instagram account.
“Maybe something didn’t work out, but we keep adding to our programs and correct the mistakes.”
Despite their rivalry on the gymnastics carpet, the twins are sisters through and through. They share an Instagram account (@arishdina1998), go on family vacations together and even insist that only one competing at Tokyo 2020 isn’t viable.
Dina told reporters at the World Championships in Sofia that it is difficult for her to compete without Arina and she would refuse to go to the Olympics without her.
A HEAD START
In 2018, the scoring system for rhythmic gymnastics changed with scores no longer having a maximum of 20.000 points. Previously, the difficulty score (D-score) for each routine was capped at 10.000, but now, athletes are able to accumulate as many points as they can in their difficulty score.
Arina and Dina went one-two in the all-around at the 2018 European Championships. The twins had D-score totals of 43.6 and 43.9, respectively. Bronze medallist Katsiaryna Halkina of Belarus had a D-score total of 41.8, giving the Averinas a nearly two-point advantage before the first element is performed.