Larisa Iordache punches ticket to Tokyo at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Basel

The Romanian returned to competition in late 2020 after more than three years away and has qualified for the Games in 2021.

By Scott Bregman

Larisa Iordache earned a qualification berth to the Olympic Games in Tokyo with her performance on Wednesday (21 April) at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Basel, Switzerland.

The Romanian came back to the sport after injuries kept her out of competition since the 2017 World Championships. The London 2012 bronze medallist is the athlete who has come closest to defeating Simone Biles on the world stage, when she finished just .466 behind the American at the 2014 Worlds.

Iordache needed to finish in the top two all-around places among eligible athletes during qualifying, with no more than one athlete per country able to secure a quota spot. She achieved that.

In the overall standings, Russia's Angelina Melnikova leads at 55.991, followed by Viktoria Listunova (55.465), and Vladislava Urazova (55.299). Iordache is fourth with a 54.698 total.

Listunova's finish booked an additional quota spot for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021, while Iordache secured the spot in her own name.

Iordache didn't get off to the start she wanted, slipping off the balance beam on a double turn. The rest of the routine, which included a back handspring to back full and triple full dismount, was solid enough to earn a 13.466 and keep her Olympic dreams alive.

She rebounded on floor exercise but still left points on the table, incurring a .300 deduction for going out of bounds. Iordache's 13.400 kept her in the race. She posted a 14.366 for her double-twisting Yurchenko. Iordache moved to her final event, the uneven bars, needing better than 13.166 to qualify. Her 13.466 was enough.

“Probably if I was asked this three years ago, if I would try and qualify for Tokyo, I would say no,” Iordache said prior to competition, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. "From the moment I made the decision to return, I knew why I fight and why I go to training every day. I was trying to find something to do in which I felt fulfilled, but I failed to do that. I really missed gymnastics and that’s why I came back."

The full results are here.