Viktoria Listunova wins Russian Gymnastics Championships

The junior world all-around champion notched her first major title as a senior, establishing herself as a Tokyo contender

By Scott Bregman
Picture by FIG, Av. de la Gare 12A, 1003 Switzerland, +41 21 321 5510, info@fig-photos.com, www.fig-photos.com

2019 junior world all-around champion Viktoria Listunova notched her first major senior victory Friday at the Russian Gymnastics Championships in Penza. The 15-year-old came into the all-around final leading by over a point and did not look back.

Over two days of competition, Listunova totalled 114.164. Fellow junior world gold medallist Vladislava Urazova finished second (113.664), followed by veteran Angelina Melnikova (111.262) in third.

Born in 2005, Listunova would not have been eligible for the Tokyo 2020 Games had they been held in 2020. But with the delay, finds herself suddenly in the mix not only for the Russian team but also to contend for medals.

"It's such an opportunity, it is such a big chance," she told Olympic Channel last August. “I should try not to miss out. It is every athlete’s dream.”

Listunova appears to be poised to make the most of new opportunity. Her performance Friday showed maturity beyond her years, highlighted by a 14.766 on the uneven bars, where she opened with an in-bar Shaposhnikova to stalder Tkatchev.

The only hiccup came on the balance beam, where she slipped off after a difficult front handspring to front tuck acrobatic sequence. She scored 13.466 to lead Urazova by .166 heading to the floor exercise.

She delivered a clean and classy routine, with little touches including out of a double turn with leg at horizonal. Her opening pass was two whip backs through to a triple twist.

Urazova earned her best score of the day – a 15.000 – on the uneven bars.

Melnikova, 2019 world all-around bronze medallist, came to these championships unsure of her form, after missing two weeks of training in January after laser eye surgery.

“I am not that confident with regards to my form right now," Melnikova said in a filming for the Olympic Channel original series All Around in which she stars.

Despite those worries, she was solid Friday, improving on the uneven bars from Thursday’s qualifying round, though she – like Listunova and Urazova – came to grief on the balance beam, falling on her crosswise split jump half.

She ended with a 14.266 and a solid floor exercise routine highlighted by a stuck full-twisting double layout first pass.