After her teammate fell, Russia’s Anna
Dementyeva ascended to the top at the
European Championships in Berlin
By John Crumlish
Photos by Thomas Schreyer
ASED on her unwavering command during
training, world champion Aliya Mustafina of
Russia seemed to have
the women’s all-around
already won at the
fourth European Individual (all-around and
apparatus) Championships, April 6-10 at
Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin. Next she dominated qualifications, outscoring her nearest
opponent by 2.85.
Alas, her assumption of the continental title
ended the second she landed her Amanar
vault in the first rotation of the all-around final.
Wincing in pain and hopping on her right leg,
she managed to salute the judges before collapsing to the floor, clutching her left knee. As
coaches rushed onto the podium to assist
Mustafina, the audience groaned as the overhead screens replayed her landing in excruciating slow motion.
Mustafina, whose injury was later diagnosed
as a torn ACL in her left knee, was led out of
the arena in a wheelchair, ironically clearing
the path of victory for her teammate, the
diminutive 16-year-old Anna Dementyeva.
Dementyeva was the youngest member of
Russia’s winning team at last year’s worlds in
Rotterdam, where her debutante’s jitters contributed to her falls from bars in the team final
and beam in the apparatus final.
The Dementyeva of Berlin was far more
self-assured, capturing the audience and ultimately the gold medal with her immaculate
technical precision and artistry. As charismatic as her performances were, though—
particularly on floor exercise, where she projected
magnificently—she said she forced herself to
After prelim leader Aliya Mustafina injured her knee on her first event in the all-around final (being carried by Yevgeny Grebyonkin), her Russian teammate Anna Dementyeva (left & opposite) stepped up to claim the gold.