Memorable Moments: A Fan Perspective of the 2014 European Championships Part 2

7:53 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

2014 Sofia European Men's and Women's Artistics Gymnastics Championships Facebook

If you missed Part 1, you can go back and read it here

Second day, senior team All-Around competition

This was perhaps the most attended day, so I’ll talk about attendance now. I’ve heard people on several occasions mention Armeec arena is “huge” and “much bigger than the one in Antwerp”. Guess what? It isn’t. Not when it comes to seating. The Arena was setup in reduced capacity, and total seating was less than 13,000 including media gallery. The Antwerps Sportpaleis is listed to have a minimum capacity of around 15,000. What caused this sensation was probably the poor attendance. How poor? I’ll go on a limb and say that if you took the entire crowd, and subtracted media, delegation members, officials, and members of the gymnasts’ immediate family, you’d have a hard time filling a double-decker bus.

Highlights from Senior C-IV

Aliya Mustafina
In Sofia, we had a chance to see a different Aliya Mustafina. She was still recovering from injury, yet competed on 3 events (no floor) to help her team through these Euros, and boy, did they need her. Perhaps more than contributing scores, Aliya acted as role model and inspiration to the young gymnasts on her team, this quote from Maria Kharenkova says more than anyone else ever could “As for Aliya she is our sister, our world star, our coach and even our mother, she is all for us. We are all very happy.”

Team Romania
After all the hardship and turmoil within the Romanian program, this Euros team gave a golden performance well worth the 1st place podium finish. In top form, and led by Larisa Iordache with a healthy Diana Bulimar, provided a good example for the difference injuries make. Their performance was in sharp contrast to that of the Russians, who looked to be missing Afanasyeva and Komova more than they expected. If these two teams perform the same at worlds in China in few months, the Romanians may stay on the podium, but the Russians won’t.

Team Great Britain
So much has already been said and written about these unforgettable and historical Euros for the British team. I can just say that it was a privilege to witness, and from the same rows as the GB delegation no less. Parents, coaches and team members were all cheering, and they do have a distinct style! They rarely cheer together, it’s mostly one person at a time, and they’ll use a gymnast’s name, short version of name, and nickname, alternating the three.

Last day, junior and senior event finals

This day was different because it was the longest, morning till after-noon. The Arena crew allowed spectators to go out to the city for lunch without stamping or validation. That was a good thing because the arena concession stand had close to nothing. All event finals were excellent; I took advantage of the attendance situation to move around, so apart from vault, I was really close to the best apparatus specialists in Europe doing their routines like only they know how. I waited with the other gym fans for a good 2 hours after the competition ended, and got to take pictures with some of the gymnasts. They are noticeably more welcoming of the concept of meeting fans when the competition is entirely over.

Highlights from junior and senior C-III

Giulia Steingruber
Girl bounced back! She had a bad TF just a day before, where she struggled with a downgraded floor routine (watch here), and wobbles and a fall on beam. Giulia returned in strength to earn her second consecutive vault gold, and floor bronze (watch here).

Vanessa Ferrari
Very glad I got to see her floor routine up close before she retires. She has a unique style that you just can’t ignore and won’t forget.

Larisa Iordache
Like a boss! Larisa qualified to all finals and did very well. Hard to believe in London she was the young prospect, and now she’s an “elder” of the team, elegant and steady for everyone to look up to.

Uneven Bars final
My favorite apparatus and it was one to remember. A spectacular performance from the two GB Girls, who seemed to be in their natural place, at the top with the Russians.

Roxana Popa
She had it rough these Euros. Seemed to be somewhat underscored, her scores were the only one to get jeers from the crowd. However, she didn’t let that reflect in her performance, and remained a charismatic fan favorite. Fun fact: The Romanian crowd cheered for her like they would for one of their own.

Final thoughts
This was my first big meet, and I can definitely say I was "bitten by the elite meet bug". I was amazed by the level and variety of gymnastics I saw right from the start, and it kept getting better! Meeting fellow fans was wonderful and fascinating; I’m looking forward to seeing them again next year. I’m very glad I had the chance to attend, and would definitely recommend it to every fan, particularly in even years when the team competition takes place and you get to see GB, RUS and ROU send their best. My decision to go was made at the last minute, but I’m so happy I did, and won’t even think about missing the next one. See you in France!

Thank you, @creatureitis for all the insight into European Championships!


  1. Well...Roxana is Romanian, so it's natural for us as Romanian gymnastics fans to root for her:) Larisa and Diana also root for her all the time.

  2. Wonderful account of your trip! You are much more daring than I could ever be-just reading about the last minute travel and ticket purchases gave me anxiety! While there did not seem to be a huge interest in the event, it seemed to work to your advantage as far as choosing your seats. Can't wait to read about your next adventure.-@bmanchops