Rounding Off: Oleg Verniaiev left out of Ukraine team for Tokyo Games

Plus, more Olympic teams named, Epke Zonderland considered skipping Tokyo, and a look back at China on floor from Atlanta 1996

By Scott Bregman

The 2016 Olympic parallel bars champion Oleg Verniaiev was not included in the 158 athletes nominated to the Ukrainian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020, according to Gymnovosti.

With just over two weeks until men's gymnastics competition begins at at the Olympics in 2021, the team nomination puts to rest months of speculation regarding Verniaiev's participation, which has been in doubt since late last year when he was provisionally suspended.

In 2020, Verniaiev skipped the European Championships in Mersin, Turkey, with Ukraine's head coach Gennady Sartynsky saying he needed to defend his PhD dissertation and recover from minor injuries. He was added to the International Gymnastics Federation's suspended list in the middle of competition at the Europeans.

With Verniaiev's absence, the four men who will compete for Ukraine are Igor Radivilov, Petro Pakhniuk, Yevhen Yudenkov, and Illia Kovtun. In women's gymnastics, Diana Varinska qualified by name to the Olympics based off her performances at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

More Olympians named for gymnastics at Tokyo

This week saw China name its 12-person Olympic gymnastics squad, as well. In men's gymnastics, 2017 world all-around champion Xiao Ruoteng, two-time world parallel bars champion Zou Jingyuan, Olympic medallist Lin Chaopan, and Sun Wei will compete in the team competition. They will also send two individual men's competitors: Liu Yang and You Hao. Zhang Boheng, who recorded a total of 88.565 in the all-around at the Chinese Olympic trials, the highest score in the world this season according to thegymter.net, was left off the squad.

On the women's side, 2019 world all-around runner-up Tang Xijing headlines the team alongside Ou Yushan, Lu Yufei, and Zhang Jin. Individual competitors Fan Yilin and Guan Chenchen will also participate in Tokyo.

Two-time Olympian Tomas Gonzalez of Chile will compete in Tokyo after originally missing the qualifying mark in 2019, according to ESPN.

Olympic champ Epke Zonderland: I have to rise above myself to get to the final

London 2012 Olympic horizontal bar champion Epke Zonderland is pushing through injury ahead of Tokyo 2020, according to RTL News.

"It goes with ups and downs, but there is certainly no good preparation now. I am certainly not thinking about medals anymore. I have to rise above myself to get to the final," said Zonderland.

He even considered skipping the Games entirely.

Zonderland had been part of a battle with Japan's Miyachi Hidetaka for the horizontal bar quota spot awarded through the FIG's apparatus World Cup series. During those competitions, his coach says he was looking good ahead of what will be his third trip to the Games.

"[It's] such a shame," said national coach Bram van Bokhoven. "Epke was so fit towards the World Cups at the beginning of last year."

From the vault…

This week, we’re once again going back to Atlanta 1996. Watch the full clip of Team China competing during the women’s team optional round on the floor exercise. The team was led by Ji Liya’s 9.825 in the rotation and finished fourth overall in the team event.