A spate of World medal hopefuls (and one Olympic champion) headline this weekend's Osijek World Cup, beginning Friday in Osijek, Croatia.
The impressive participants list includes gymnasts from five continents and includes fan favorites Elsa Garcia (MEX), Noel van Klaveren (NED), Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL) and Epke Zonderland (NED), all of whom will be using this meet as a warmup for the Antwerp World Championships in two weeks.
The meet is also notable for some new faces, as well as those not seen in international competition in awhile, including Ekaterina Kramarenko, a veteran of the 2008 Olympic Games (and, more unfortunately, the 2007 World Championships), as well as 2008 Olympian Nathalia Sanchez, who competes for Colombia but has recently been training and coaching in Panama.
At least one potential world medalist is slated to compete on every event. Here's a breakdown:
Women's vault: Entrants include 2011 World vault bronze medalist Phan Ti Ha Thanh of Vietnam, who does a double-twisting Yurchenko and a Rudi, as well as reigning European silver medalist van Klaveren, who has a DTY and a Tsukahara full.
Uneven bars: Look out for the talented Noemi Makra of Hungary, a first-year senior this year, who has one of the best Jaegers in the business, as well as Britain's Rebecca Tunney and Becky Downie, who are carrying on the Beth Tweddle-founded British tradition of intricate combinations on the event. Also in the field is Sweden's Jonna Adlerteg, who with her silver on the event at this year's European Championships, is certainly eyeing a place in finals at Worlds.
Beam: Twenty nine-year-old Vasiliki Millousi of Greece (who has hinted that this World Championships may be her last) is the most well-known entrant on beam, but a number of gymnasts, including Garcia, Krystina Sankova (UKR) and Anna Rodionova (RUS) could challenge her for the title there.
Women's floor: Garcia is the most well-known performer here, though Makra, Pihan-Kulesza or any of the five first-year seniors in the field (including the Netherlands's Chantysha Netteb) or Kramarenko seems a candidate for the podium.
Men's floor: Competition includes 2010 World floor champion Eleftherios Kosmidis of Greece and floor specialists Tomislav Markovic (CRO), Jeffrey Wammes (NED), as well as Kazuyuki Takeda and Kenzo Kaneko, two young Japanese gymnasts aiming to make a name for themselves. If we've learned anything from the Japanese men on floor during the past few years, it's that they have incredible twisting skills.
Pommel horse: The pommel horse list is long, but a few specialists stand out, including 2011 World silver medalist Cyril Tommasone (FRA), Belgian talent Donna-Donny Truyens, Hungary's Vid Hidvegi, Croatia's Robert Seligmann and Filip Ude. Also look out for Italian Alberto Busnari, who did flairs through handstand and down on the horse way before it was popular (it's just becoming popular now -- check out the combination Tommasone is working) and Germany's Waldemar Eichorn, who is helping popularize it now.
Add in 2009 World pommel champion Zhang Hongtao (CHN) and Olympic pommel gold medalist Krisztian Berki (HUN) and British pommel stars Daniel Keatings and Max Whitlock, and we could just have the world final in Osijek.
Rings: Like pommel horse, rings will be a battle of one event specialists, including European medalists Samir Ait-Said and Danny Pinheiro-Rodrigues (FRA), Matteo Morandi (ITA), Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE), Tommy Ramos (PUR) and Yuri van Gelder (NED) all battling for the title.
Men's vault: With his explosive and beautiful Yurchenko double pike, Vietnam's Ha Thanh Nguyen made a name for himself in literally three seconds flat at the French International in March. He's one of the only men in the competition in Croatia likely to toss a 6.0 difficulty vault. Also in contention for the podium: Wammes, who has two strong vaults, 2010 European vault champ Tomi Tuuha of Finland, Youth Olympic Games vault medalist Ferhat Arican of Turkey and Poland's Marek Lyszczarz, a perennial contender in World Cup finals.
Parallel bars: Zonderland, who is nearly as good on p-bars as he is on high bar (and often cleaner, in fact), is one of the big names to watch here. So is two-time World p-bars champ Mitja Petkovsec of Slovenia and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hamilton Sabot.
High bar: Provided he hits his 7.7 difficulty routine, nobody should be able to touch Zonderland, though that won't keep gymnasts like Croatia's Marijo Moznik, Slovakia's Samuel Piasecky and Wammes from trying. Puerto Rico's Angel Ramos and Alexander Rodriguez could also make some noise on this event.
Related: Osijek World Cup official website