Rounding Off: The week that was in gymnastics for 30 October

Coronavirus wreaks havoc as Larisa Iordache announces positive test, Russia off Europeans roster

By Scott Bregman

2012 Olympic gymnastics team bronze medallist Larisa Iordache, the woman who has come closest to defeating Simone Biles on the world stage, was planning to participate in a team level verification event this week but has withdrawn due to a positive test for COVID-19. The competition would have been her first in three years after she suffered an Achilles tendon tear during warmups for the 2017 World Championships in Montreal.

“After three years, I was ready to compete again at a team-level verification. Unfortunately I tested positive for Covid-19,” the Romanian wrote on Twitter. “My symptoms are mild, and I isolated myself at home for the next two weeks. Hopefully, I'll be able to compete next month at the National Championships.”

Those national championships are scheduled for 19-22 November. Prior the announcement of her positive test, Iordache told Olympic Channel she was looking forward to that meet.

“I think I will have many emotions, but I will enjoy every second when I am there," she said.

More countries withdraw from December’s European Artistic Gymnastics Championships

A 29 October update to the roster of countries registered for December’s European Gymnastics Championships in Mersin, Turkey, indicates that the Russian Federation no longer plans to attend the competition.

“Our main goal is to preserve the health of our athletes and coaches," said Russian head coach Andrei Rodionenko, according to RIA Novosti. "The challenge for the upcoming European Championship was to win Olympic [extra] qualifications, but since the Olympic qualification was postponed to the European Championship in 2021, we decided not to risk it."

Belgium also announced on Thursday that its women’s team would not participate in the event. A decision regarding whether or not its men’s gymnast will compete in Mersin is expected in the coming days. Russia and Belgium are joined by Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and more, in saying they’ll skip the event which is no longer a qualifier for next summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

News of Belgium’s withdrawal comes after two-time World uneven bars champion Nina Derwael had to isolate after her boyfriend, football player Siemen Voet, tested positive for the virus.

At present, countries that combined to win 10 of the 12 gold medals at the 2019 European Championships are no longer expected to compete in December's competition.

No plans for virtual top level gymnastics events in U.S.

After releasing a plan to enable its member clubs to hold virtual gymnastics competitions, USA Gymnastics says they do not plan to utilize the format for its national team competitions in 2021.

“We are thrilled to introduce a virtual meet option that will allow gymnasts across the country to participate in sanctioned competitions while also adhering to social distancing guidelines and local restrictions,” the governing body said in a statement the Olympic Channel. “As we continue to work through the challenges of this pandemic, the safety of our community members has remained our highest priority.”

The first USA Gymnastics premier event scheduled for 2021 is May’s U.S Classic which is closely followed by their nationals and Olympic trials.

“While we are currently planning to hold our 2021 premier events in person, we are considering a number of modifications, including limiting spectators for certain events,” the statement continued. “We will continue to investigate risk mitigation strategies and best practices from around the sports industry to ensure our live events are low risk. If necessary, we will consider holding 2021 premier events virtually, but we do not anticipate doing so at this time.” - USA Gymnastics

Samir Ait Said: "I love a challenge. And more so, when people tell me it's impossible."

French gymnast Samir Ait Said, who suffered a gruesome compound fracture on vault at Rio 2016, stars in the latest episode of the Olympic Channel series 'What Moves Me.'

It's a tearjerker as the man who won still rings bronze at the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, takes inside his journey back the Games through recovery and the loss of his father.

"I love a challenge," says Ait Said. "And more so when people tell me it's impossible."

Look no further than the Olympic Channel…

1️⃣ ‘All Around’ star and 2019 all-around World bronze medallist Angelina Melnikova on how her time away from the gym turn into a positive. Plus, the 20-year-old is nominated for the Pride of Russia’s ‘Sportswoman of the Year.’

2️⃣ Three-time Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva shared with us his hopeful vision for the future after coming out publicly two weeks ago.

“I hope to one day live in a world where your sexuality is as irrelevant as whether or not you're right or left handed. You know, it's such a non-issue. It literally means nothing that if you're just like, ‘Oh, you're left handed? That's cool. Oh, you're bi? That's cool.’ Like, it's really nothing,” said Leyva. “The only way we can achieve that is by making it normal, by doing things like what I did by coming out publicly, by talking about it publicly, by just helping people understand.

From the vault

This week, we take a look back to Tanaka Yusuke performing his parallel bars routine from qualifying at London 2012. The routine earned the Japanese gymnast top honours on the apparatus, though he ultimately finished in eighth in the final.

In case you missed it, be sure to check out our other ‘From the vault’ moments including Svetlana Khorkina’s compulsory uneven bars routine from Atlanta 1996 and Kristen Maloney’s team final floor routine from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.