Darya Varfolomeev wants to use the European Championship for the Olympic Games

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Written By Maya Cantina

The Olympic Games are the big goal for all athletes this year. This also corresponds with that Rhythmic gymnast Darya Varfolomeev, who won gold in the all-around competition and with hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon at the 2023 World Championships in Valencia, all below. But the 17-year-old student from TSV Schmiden does not yet know whether she will even participate in the all-round competition in Paris.

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At the beginning and end of June she must qualify for her first competitions in two internal competitions. Germany has two singles starting spots – occupied by Varfolomeev and Margarita Kolosov at the 2023 World Cup – but these are not personalized. “Daria is clearly a favourite,” national coach Isabell Sawade told Sportbuzzer, the sports portal of the editorial network Germany (RND).

At the European Championships that start on Wednesday in Budapest, Varfolomeev will only compete with three handheld equipment. The implementation of the individual programs is more important than the placement. “The European Championships are just a stopover on the way to the Olympic Games,” says Sawade. In the previous matches “a few things worked well. But the exercises are not always consistent. Fortunately, because if that were the case in April/May, we would have planned it wrong. We are still building up for the Olympic Games.”

Stability of the exercises is paramount

This is also the reason why the national coach relieves some of the pressure on the gymnast. Because one of the four hand equipment exercises is omitted in the qualification for the all-round final – at the European Championships only the best three count anyway – Varfolomeev will participate in a maximum of ten instead of twelve performances. “With Darja there would be a good chance that she would reach all four apparatus finals. That would have been a lot.”

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The entire focus is on the stability of the exercises. Coach Julia Raskina has not only introduced more difficulties for her protégé at the Fellbach-Schmiden federal base compared to the World Cup exercises, two of the four programs – with ball and clubs – are also completely new. In the competitions of recent weeks, Varfolomeev has continuously improved, but has not remained flawless. “The programs are so difficult, everything has to be right,” Sawade told Sportbuzzer. “We are very satisfied with the results.”

Good form in Baku and Tashkent

The Grand Prix in Marbella, Spain, in early March, served to try out the new programs. Not everything worked out for Varfolomeev. Already at the World Championships in Baku (Azerbaijan) in mid-April it became clear what error analysis and concentration on training – school has been on hold for two hours a day since the Easter holidays – have achieved: the six-time world champion won the all-round and three apparatus finals. A week later, at the World Championships in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), the 17-year-old confirmed her very good form: three victories and two second places. Although she also noted equipment losses due to risk elements, the national coach did not see it that way: “It’s good if the mistakes happen now and we can keep working on them.” Also: “Doing two World Championships two weekends in a row is a bit tiring,” Varfolomeev was quoted on the homepage of the German Gymnastics Federation.

Sawade also realized this after the World Challenge Cup in Portimão, Portugal ten days ago, where the 17-year-old won four times. “Darja is a bit tired at the moment. We now have to find a good balance.” There is still a while until the Olympics.

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