Averina twins clinch all-around gold and bronze at European Championships in Bulgaria

Home gymnast Boryana Kaleyn splits Russian twins Arina and Dina on the podium in Varna to win first Bulgarian individual all-around medal since 1994

By ZK Goh

Arina and Dina Averina, Russia's dominant rhythmic gymnastics twins, were surprisingly split by Bulgaria's Boryana Kaleyn in the UEG Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships individual all-around final in Varna on Saturday (12 June).

Home favourite Kaleyn performed last on clubs, knowing exactly what she needed to make the podium – which at the time was comprised of Arina Averina (109.100), Dina Averina (107.325), and Israel's defending champion Linoy Ashram (106.800).

Needing 27.125 points to go level with Ashram and 27.650 to equal Dina Averina's score, Kaleyn sent the home crowd into wild cheers as her score of 27.950 pushed her into the silver medal position.

Kaleyn's medal was the first for a Bulgarian rhythmic gymnast in the senior individual all-around since Maria Petrova won consecutive golds in 1992 and 1994.

Arina Averina had earlier eased past her twin sister on the leaderboard with a confident ball routine scoring her 29.200, the top mark for any gymnast on any of the four apparatus.

Her gold medal sees her regain her European all-around title, which she last held in 2018.

Dina Averina's 107.325 was enough to win her a second continental all-around medal, after silver behind Arina at the 2018 Championships in Spain.

There was also Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification on the line, with Fanni Pignicki of Hungary securing the berth.

In the evening's group all-around final, Russia clinched their 14th European title and first since 2018.

They were, in reality, never under threat from any of the other teams, having built a big lead even before they took to the mat last in the three hoops/two pairs of clubs round.

Belarus had got to within 0.150 points of Russia after the five balls, but a poor three hoops/two pairs of clubs routine saw them drop back.

Russia's final score of 90.250 was some 2.8 points clear of Italy, who clinched silver for the fifth time on 87.450.

Defending champions Israel pushed the Italians close, finishing on 87.400.

Of the teams that had not yet qualified for Tokyo 2020, Ukraine placed the highest (84.550, sixth) to secure their spot in Tokyo.