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Aug. 21 Review: Eastern Europe dominates
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Olga Kapranova of Russia led the Individual All-Around, and Belarus led the Group All-Around on the first day of the Rhythmic Gymnastics qualifications on Thursday at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.

Individual All-Around

Kapranova, the 2005 world Individual All-Around champion and 2007 world Individual All-Around bronze medalist, performed both of her routines (Hoop and Rope) confidently, finishing the evening with 36.825 points. She earned her top score (18.475) for the Hoop routine in the second rotation.

Russia's dominance of the evening continued when Kapranova's teammate Evgeniya Kanaeva improved from fifth place after the first rotation to finish second with 36.550 points. Kanaeva's score of 18.700 for her Hoop routine in the second rotation was the highest score of the evening on either apparatus.

Athens 2004 bronze medalist Anna Bessonova of Ukraine finished third with 36.400 points, receiving her top score of the evening (18.450) in the Hoop routine in the second rotation.

Inna Zhukova of Belarus placed fourth with 36.225 points, followed by Aliya Yussupova of Kazakhstan in fifth place with 35.475 points. At Athens 2004, Zhukova and Yussupova placed seventh and fourth, respectively, in the Individual All-Around final.

Almudena Cid of Spain, who, at 28, is the oldest competitor and the first four-time Olympian in Rhythmic Gymnastics, finished 10th with 33.475 points.

Qualifications conclude on Friday, when all 24 gymnasts will perform two routines: Clubs and Ribbon. The 10 gymnasts with the highest totals from all four apparatuses in Qualifications will advance to the Individual All-Around final on Saturday.

Group All-Around

Performing last among the 12 groups, Belarus earned the evening's top score of 17.525 for their folk-based routine using five ropes. Belarus, who placed fourth at Athens 2004, had the highest difficulty score of the field (9.100) and shared the highest execution score of the field (8.400) with China.

China's score of 17.300 placed them second, well above their sixth-place Group result at Athens 2004. Their precise performances outscored Athens 2004 silver medalist Italy (17.150), who placed third, and Athens 2004 gold medalist Russia (17.000), who was fourth.

Russia's relatively low total score reflected a faulty pirouette and apparatus handling by one of the group members, although they had the highest artistry score (9.200) of the evening.

Bulgaria, the Athens 2004 bronze medalist, finished fifth with 16.625 points.

Qualifications will conclude Friday, when all 12 groups will perform one routine that uses three Hoops and two Clubs. The eight groups with the highest totals from both routines in Qualifications will advance to the Group All-Around final on Sunday.

(BOCOG, August 22, 2008)

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