By Yuri Karpenko
Over the past 10 years, the event has helped several gymnasts springboard to fame and success, including Belarusian stars Valeria Kurilskaya, Svetlana Rudalova, Lyubov Cherkashina and Melita Stanyuta. It is inspiring that the tournament is expanding its geography, with those from Turkey and Azerbaijan joining this year.
Ten sets of medals were up for grabs, in individual and group exercises, divided into two age groups. The host team of Belarus took all but one of the gold medals, when pre-junior Lyaman Khadzhizada of Azerbaijan claimed gold for her routine with the ball (among those born 1999-2000). In the other exercises in this age group and among the juniors (born 1996-1998) Belarusian representatives starred: Yevgenia Vensko (hoop), Kristina Burachenok (clubs), Yelena Bolotina (hoop and ball), Anna Bozhko (clubs) and Maria Kadobina (ribbon).
Belarus was also unequalled in the all-round and in the group routines. Among the pre-juniors and juniors, Vensko and Kadobina took gold overall. In the group exercises, the host team beat the Latvian and Lithuanian squads to take gold. Seven countries in all climbed the medals podium.
The tournament in Minsk was a dress rehearsal for the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, being hosted by Minsk-Arena in late May.