More proof that countries are changing it up going into this year's World Championships: The Italian Gymnastics Federation has released an article all but confirming that Vanessa Ferrari, Carlotta Ferlito, Alessia Leolini and Adriana Crisci will suit up for Worlds in Antwerp later this month.
Ferrari and Ferlito have been the stalwarts of the Italian team during the past few years. And while 2006 World champion Ferrari might be eyeing retirement, 18-year-old Ferlito has looked better than ever this year. (Event finals in Antwerp are certainly on her to-do list.) Leolini is one of the young up-and-comers in Italy, and 31-year-old Crisci is a 2000 Olympian.
Yes, that's right, a 2000 Olympian.
The few cases of gymnasts who disappear from the international scene only to reappear after an Olympiad or two (or, in this case, three) are rare birds indeed. Maybe that's why the Italians have dubbed Crisci the "Phoenix of SG Vittoria Torino." She seemingly retired after the Sydney Olympics -- where she finished 31st in the all-around -- but resurfaced at the Trofeo di Jesolo earlier this year looking like a hybrid of Ferrari and Oksana Chusovitina, albeit rougher around the edges.
However, she is also the only member of the Italian team to have a double-twisting Yurchenko vault at the moment, which according to coach Enrico Casella is enough to merit her trip to Antwerp. In another odd coaching decision, Casella has spoken out against sending 2013 Euros dynamo Elisa Meneghini to Antwerp, stating that she is "in a delicate phase" of her growth, is working on upping her difficulty for next year and does not need to be distracted by a competition like the World Championships as she soldiers forward.
Sidenote: The big trend of 2013 seems to be shunning the World Championships, or at least, countries not sending as many gymnasts to the event as they might. It has gymnastics fans shaking their heads. Could the experience of a World Championships ever really be a bad thing?