Averina twins return to action in 'online' Moscow competition

Dina and Arina win three events at tournament held without fans and through the Internet

By ZK Goh

It's what many rhythmic gymnastics fans have been waiting for – the return of competition and Russia's Averina twins, Dina and Arina.

Athletes representing Russia, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan participated in an 'online' tournament, with only Russian, Kyrgyz, and some Uzbek athletes competing in person in Moscow. The other Uzbek and the Israeli gymnasts took part from their home countries, via the Internet.

The Averina sisters took wins in three of the four individual apparatus events, with Dina clinching victory in the ribbon and hoop and Arina in the ball event.

Fellow Russian Anastasia Guzenkova won the clubs event, while there was no all-around championship.

Return from injury

For Dina, it was not only a return to competition after the coronavirus lockdown, but also after injury.

The 21-year-old had suffered a knock at the Russian national championships in February in the very same arena in Moscow.

She admitted that at first, after four months and four days away, she was scared and had flashbacks to her last performance in the arena when she got injured.

"I am very glad that four months after the injury I was able to go to the venue and perform," she said.

"When quarantine began, it was very difficult to find incentives to work. But then, (head coach) Irina Alexandrovna (Viner-Usmanova) said that we would be preparing a new program, coming up with new elements.

"After that, I had a motivation to do something new and my eyes lit up."

No fans

There were no fans in attendance at the Irina Viner-Usmanova Rhythmic Gymnastics Palace. More such "online" tournaments seem likely in the short-term future.

"These competitions will now be held more often," Viner-Usmanova said. "I hope that next time we will have a large representation of countries and Europe, and the whole world."

However, Arina Averina said she found performing without a crowd "boring".

"It was difficult to prepare with the situation around the world. During the performance, I also felt a little unusual," she said.

"In a regular tournament you experience completely different emotions. It's boring without spectators.

"I am happy that we began to perform, at least some movement has begun.

"On the other hand, I still want the fans to return to the stands."