|Recovering from an injured ankle, Youth Olympic champion Viktoria Komova has a month to prove her case to Russia's coaches that she belongs at the European championships in Berlin.
The hotly anticipated all-around showdown between Russia's two superstars — world champion Aliya Mustafina and Youth Olympic champion Viktoria Komova — may have to wait.
The ankle injury Komova sustained late last year leaves her on the bubble for Russian's squad for April's European championships, national coach Valentina Rodionenko told a Moscow newspaper Tuesday.
In December, Komova fractured her ankle tripping over a mat and spent several weeks in a cast. The first-year senior did three events at last week's Russian championships, winning the bronze on uneven bars despite falling on her new piked Tkatchev release. The 2010 Junior European champion had intended to compete all four events in the all-around, but balked two runs on vault and did not attempt a third.
"Vika had a serious ankle injury," Rodionenko told "Moskovsky Komsomolets." "It has healed well and the bone fused quickly, but the pain remained. She just did not have time to fully recover."
Mustafina, who headlines Saturday's AT&T American Cup in Jacksonville, skipped last week's Russian championships in Penza. It was expected the two gymnasts would go head-to-head for the first time in several years in the all-around final in Berlin.
Both gymnasts had banner years in 2010. Komova won the Russian championships, which Mustafina missed with injury, and then won four gold medals at the spring's Junior European championships. In August, she won the all-around, vault and uneven bars titles at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Mustafina, a first-year senior in 2010, led Russia to victories at both the Europeans in Birmingham and the worlds in Rotterdam. She won the all-around title in Rotterdam, plus three individual event medals.
Komova's 61.250 all-around total from Singapore is the highest a female gymnast has scored under the most recent Code of Points, while Mustafina's 61.032 from the Rotterdam all-around final is the second highest.
Each country can enter up to four female and six male gymnasts at this year's European championships, which is for senior all-around and individual events. According to Rodionenko, Mustafina and new Russian champion Anna Dementyeva are likely to do all four events, Tatiana Nabiyeva will compete vault and uneven bars, and the fourth gymnast will be either Komova or another first-year senior, Yulia Belokobylskaya.
Belokobylskaya, who turns 16 in December, won the gold medal on floor exercise and the bronze on beam in Penza.
"This is a new name to many, but this gymnast has gone out and declared, 'I'm a force to be reckoned with!'" Rodionenko said of Belokobylskaya. "In my opinion we need to consider her. Overall the youth is knocking very hard on the door to the senior team."
But with a month left before the Europeans begin, Komova can still make her case for the team, Rodionenko said.
"She is still in contention for a trip to the European championship, so we'll look at the state of the gymnasts before the meet," she said. "It must not tear her up psychologically. If the girl is a leader, but due to lack of recovery time lost something here and there, how can she lead? But if we see that she's [ready], then she will go."
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