Each year, the European Championships feature a showdown among the best gymnasts in Europe, often providing a preview for top contenders for medals at the World Championships.

This year, the battle for the all-around podium was fierce, with the top three gymnasts separated by less than four-tenths of a point. In the end, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France won the all-around gold medal with a 55.433, followed by Great Britain‘s Ellie Downie with a 55.365 for silver. Angelina Melnikova of Russia showed a much-improved performance from Russian Championships to place third with a 55.065.

Originally stating that she would not compete in the all-around at this competition, Dos Santos performed fantastically on all four events in both qualifications on Thursday and today in the all-around final, looking even more solid than she has in the last couple years.

Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos performs on the floor exercise at the European Championships in Szczecin, Poland/L’Equipe

Dos Santos started off with a big Yurchenko double full on vault to score a 14.100, showing off her powerful gymnastics. Showing that she is not just a power gymnast, she posted a 14.000 on the uneven bars with her graceful swing, interesting skill connections, and a nearly-stuck full-twisting double layout dismount.

After two rotations, Dos Santos was in fourth place, just four tenths out of first place. She competed a fantastic beam routine with difficult acro skills and confident connections to score a 13.733, the second highest score on beam at the competition so far. Going into the last rotation, Dos Santos was just .066 points behind Downie and was just a bit cleaner on floor. Her high start value combined with clean execution earned her a 13.600, just enough to win the competition and secure the gold medal.

Downie, the 2017 European all-around champion, showed that she is back at full strength after struggling with injuries in 2018, starting her competition off with a strong Yurchenko double full for a 14.500, putting her in first place after the opening rotation.

After a solid bar routine in the second rotation, she was just .033 points out of first place. Her release connections and clean lines will keep Downie in contention for the uneven bars title during event finals on Saturday. Downie regained first place after the third rotation, where she fought past a few wobbles and nailed her difficult double spin to score a 13.333.

The Brit ended her day on floor, landing a bit short on her double-double but with had solid landings on her other two passes to score a 13.466. In the end, she was just edged out by Dos Santos but should be very proud of her performance here.

After struggling with endurance and falls during Russian Championships, many were unsure of how strong Melnikova would be this year. She answered with a great performance in the all-around final, starting with a clean Yurchenko double full to score a 14.333.

Angelina Melnikova performs on the floor exercise at the European Championships in Szczecin, Poland/Sports Gym Russia

As always, the Russian star lovely on bars, with a great piked Jaeger, precise handstands, and a solid full-twisting double back dismount. Melnikova scored a 14.266 on bars, putting her into first place after two rotations. She hit beam, though didn’t quite hit her ring positions on her leaps, costing her slightly. Her overall consistency, especially on beam, has improved a lot in the past year and will keep her a major contributor to Russia’s national team.

The Italians just missed out on the podium, with two first-year seniors in Alice D’Amato scoring 53.233 to place fourth and Giorgia Villa scoring a 52.999 for sixth place. Unfortunately, falls from both gymnasts kept them out of the medals, but they looked strong and should help Italy qualify a team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this year.

Ukraine also had great performances, with Anastasiia Bachynska placing fifth with a 53.133 and Diana Varinska placing seventh with a 52.999. Both gymnasts hit their routines and will be hoping to help Ukraine qualify a full team to the Olympics again as well. If Bachynska and Varinska can hit more consistently in international competition, they will be contenders for event finals. They show how much potential Ukraine’s women’s program currently has and how much more they can grow into one of the better programs in Europe.

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