Russia claimed both the men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics team competition European Games gold medals here to firmly back up their billing as pre-tournament favourites.
Despite trailing Ukraine after the first day of action, the Russian men’s team of David Belyavskiy, Nikita Ignatyev and Nikolai Kuksenkov registered an overall total of 178.963 to overcome their rivals, who took silver.
The Ukrainian trio of Igor Radivilov, Oleg Verniaiev and Mykyta Yermak ultimately fell just short with a score of 177.429.
Hosts Azerbaijan, meanwhile, a team made up of Petro Pakhnyuk, Eldar Safarov and top all-rounder Oleg Stepko, produced a magnificent display to secure the bronze medal with 174.195.
Russia didn't rank first on any of the six apparatus but were consistently strong, ending runners-up on four occasions and no lower than fourth across them all.
Second-place finishes on the pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and horizontal bar were complimented by a third-place ranking on the floor and fourth place on the vault.
"I am proud and satisfied," said Kuksenkov, who along with Belyavskiy and Ignatyev was part of the team that won gold at last year's European Championships in Sofia.
"We were planning to win, but we faced strong competitors, so we were competing under pressure.
"This medal is important for us as we set our target.
"The first thing for us was to become a winner at team level.
"We watched the last part when Ukraine was performing and we were nervous."
Russia’s margin of victory was much bigger in the women’s event as Victoria Komova, Aliya Mustafina and Seda Tutkhalyan blew away the opposition with a total of 116.897.
A runners-up spot on the floor was the only blemish on a dominant display having ranked first on the vault, uneven bars and beam.
"This medal is important for me, like the other medals that I've won," said Komova.
Germany’s Leah Griesser, Sophie Scheder and Elisabeth Seitz were 6.500 behind in second place.
The Netherlands team of Lisa Top, Celine van Gerner and Lieke Wevers completed the podium with 110.099.
Based on scores from the team final and qualifications, gymnasts earned berths to the individual all-around finals on Thursday (June 18), and the apparatus finals on Saturday (June 20).
Reigning European champion Verniaiev topped the men's individual all-around standings with 91.532, finishing well ahead of Ignatyev on 89.065 and Stepko on 88.231.
Stepko qualified first for pommel horse, while Spain’s Rayderley Miguel Zapata Santana was top scorer on the floor.
Greek gymnasts Eleftherios Petrounias and Vlasios Maras were the best qualifiers on the rings and high bar respectively.
Top qualifiers on the women's side included Mustafina, in the individual all-around, and on the uneven bars and floor, as well as Switzerland's Giulia Steingruber on the vault, and Tutkhalyan on the balance beam.
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