European Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2024: Ukraine crowned champions

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The first rotation saw the top two from qualifying Ukraine and GB take to the floor exercise. Radomyr Stelmakh was up first and took a huge stumble on the second pass for Ukraine, revealing straight from the off that this was going to be a nervy occasion.

Courtney Tulloch stepped up first for the Brits, laying down a marker by performing a stand-out routine with landings a clear focus – in this head-to-head, every mark would count. The race was on.

Jake Jarman scored 14.600 to take GB to the top of the table from the off.

The crowd roared on Italy throughout their first apparatus, the still rings, alongside Türkiye, who had the benefit of home spectators last time out in Antalya, creating their own noise, particularly after Adem Asil, the 2022 world champion on rings, roared with delight after finishing his routine for 14.466.

At the end of the first rotation GB lead followed by Türkiye, Israel and Italy, with Ukraine fifth.

Rotation two and Oleg Verniaiev scored a huge 15.200 on pommel horse, patting the apparatus on finishing his routine as if it was indeed his steed.

Briton Joe Fraser tamed the apparatus on which he had fallen three times in qualification, performing a stand-out routine, which culminated in a guttural roar on completion for 14.500.

A tricky piked handspring double front half by Asil helped take Türkiye to the top of the table after rotation two, scoring 15.033. Lorenzo Casali of Italy scored 14.600 for a beautiful triple twisting Tsukahara, to take his team fourth, one behind GB. Ukraine had risen to second.

The score of 14.500 seemed to be the order of the day in rotation three as Tulloch and Harry Hepworth of Great Britain, and Igor Radivilov of Ukraine scored that mark on still rings. Italy’s Mario Macchiati matched the score on parallel bars to take the Italians into second spot behind Türkiye. Halfway through the competition and Ukraine were third and GB fourth.

Fourth round of six and the vault rotation jettisoned GB back to the top of the pile, helped by three stand-out vaults. World vault champion Jarman drew gasps from the crowd with his 3.5 twisting vault to score 15.500, Tulloch and Hepworth followed suit scoring 14.633 and 15.000, respectively, both performing fabulous Dragelescu vaults – a handspring double front with half turn.

Ukraine faltered when Verniaiev landed short on the same vault, landing on his knees, for a mark of 13.066, putting GB now back in the lead, with Ukraine second, Italy third, and Türkiye, fourth.

The penultimate round and one routine stood out above all others.

Illia Kovtun‘s sensational parallel bars routine scored 15.800, the highest score of the night. Nevertheless, GB stayed in the lead almost one mark ahead of Ukraine in second with Italy third and Türkiye fourth heading onto the final discipline, pommel horse. GB and Ukraine were on the equally jeopardous high bar as their final act.

In the third-fourth place showdown Mehmet Ayberk Kosak blinked first, with an error-strewn routine for Türkiye that scored 11.666. Italy went through cleanly to secure the bronze medal to rapturous applause from the partisan crowd.

The high bar, meanwhile, was the stage that would decide the European champions.

GB went through cleanly enough, despite a wild moment from Fraser in which he clung to the bar after an awkward regrasp of the bar, but it was that man Kovtun again, who stepped up last with a superb performance to clinch the title.

“I am very happy,” Kovtun told afterwards, “but also very hungry.”

We’re in Italy, are you looking to have pizza maybe, we suggested.

“Anything,” said a smiling Kovtun, whose three gold medals at this championships have clearly given him an appetite. “Anything.”

“We’ve all been working so hard on the finer details,” Hall told afterwards. “We go through our routines to really try and get those extra tenths and to happen quite like that, where it’s down to the wire, that’s what it takes. It’s going to take some stuck landings, it’s going to take the little tweaks here and there and I think today we showcased that.”

“I’m really happy with my consistency,” said Tulloch who has had quite the championships, posting high scores throughout. “I’m really proud of myself that I’ve been able to do that, but this team here inspires me, motivates me every single day.”

“This must be the fourth major where I’ve had to do the last routine and it’s always a privilege to do that last routine,” said Jarman. “But you know what? I felt really calm doing that routine. I put my hand up and jumped onto the bar. Normally, if I’m competing for myself, I’d be a lot more nervous, but I just felt really confident today and going through that routine felt like a breeze.”

“It was special because I’m very young,” said 18-year-old Ukrainian Radomyr Stelmakh afterwards of the team gold medal. “It’s difficult to believe.”

At the other end of the scale, 31-year-old Radivilov said via an interpreter that he was very proud of his teammates, and that “we are very happy to be here right now”. They are very much looking forward to taking this form to the Olympic Games in Paris, he said of the XXXIII Olympiad looming for all, starting in less than three months’ time.

* As National Olympic Committees have the exclusive authority for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games, athletes’ participation at the Paris Games depends on their NOC selecting them to represent their delegation at Paris 2024.
* Click here to see the official qualification system for each sport.

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