French teams for London announced

The Championnat de France Elite concluded Sunday in Nantes with event finals and the announcement of the French artistic gymnastics teams for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Titles for the men were won by Gaël Da Silva (floor), Cyril Tommasone (pommel horse), Danny Rodrigues (rings), Raphael Wignanitz (vault), and Hamilton Sabot (parallel bars, high bar). All around winner Pierre-Yves Bény medalled on floor, pommel horse, and high bar. For the women, event titles went to all around champion Anne Kuhm (vault, beam), Youna Dufournet (uneven bars), and Marine Brevet (floor).

There were few surprises with the teams announced for the Olympics. All arounder Tommasone, a silver medalist on pommel horse at the 2011 World Championships, leads the experienced men’s squad. He will be joined by Yann Cucherat, Da Silva, Rodrigues, and Sabot.  Bény is the named reserve.

For Cucherat, unable to compete in Nantes due to an injury suffered at last month’s European Championships, London will mark his fourth trip to the Olympics. He has been a parallel bars finalists at each of his previous Olympic Games. Cucherat is also a former world medalist on both parallel bars and high bar, and a two-time European champion on parallel bars.

Rodrigues and Sabot each will be competing in their second Olympics. Rodrigues, a rings specialist, has a long resumé of finals on his event; with one of the highest D scores on rings this year, he will be looking to improve on his fifth place finish in Beijing four years ago. Sabot gives the team another solid all arounder, with his strengths being parallel bars and high bar.

Da Silva, like Tommasone, will be making his first Olympic appearance. A veteran of the French squad, Da Silva missed out on the 2008 Olympics with a knee injury. He has competed well this year, most recently tying for bronze on floor at the European Championships.

By contrast, France will be represented by five first-time Olympians on the women’s side, none of whom have competed at the Olympics or were even eligible for Beijing.  Brevet, Dufournet, Kuhm, and Sophia Serseri, all members of the French squad for the Olympic Test Event and European Championship team, will be joined by Aurélie Malausséna. Olympic reserve Valentine Sabatou was the fifth member of the Euros squad.

At 18, Dufournet is the most experienced of the team,  having reached multiple all around and event finals at European and World Championships. In Nantes, she showed a 6.9 routine on uneven bars and remains the best medal hope for the women.

Kuhm has performed well in her first year as a senior, winning the national title on Saturday and performing consistently at the Test Event and European Championships. Brevet, Malausséna, and Serseri all bring World Championship experience. Brevet and Malausséna were both slowed by injury earlier in the year but seem to be on the road to recovery, and like Kuhm, are capable of mid-50 all around scores.

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