© Ricardo Bufolin

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 20, 2019 – For the first time since 1991, the United States has qualified for two Olympic Games berths in individual rhythmic gymnastics. The double ticket to Tokyo is courtesy of outstanding performances by Evita Griskenas of Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, who finished eighth and 10th, respectively, in the all-around final at the 2019 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan. U.S.-based fans can watch an encore presentation of the all-around finals tonight at 8 p.m. ET on the Olympic Channel with a simulcast. Competition continues tomorrow with the all-around for group gymnastics, with the USA competing at 2:30 p.m. Baku/6:30 a.m. ET and that will be livestreamed by the Olympic Channel.

This is the first time the USA has had two gymnasts finish in the top 10 in the World Championships all-around final. Also, Zeng became the first American to receive the Longines Prize for Elegance for rhythmic gymnastics when she was awarded the prize at this year’s championships.

For the 2020 Olympic Games, the top 16, max two per country, in the final all-around rankings qualified. The last time the United States had two gymnasts qualify to the Olympics was in 1992, when the competitive field was 42. Group rhythmic gymnastics was added to Olympic program in 1996, and the Olympic field for individual gymnastics has been 24 since 2000. The USA also qualified two gymnasts to the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Ala., by finishing in the top 20 in the all-around final.

In the all-around, Griskenas and Zeng finished in the top 10. Griskenas earned an 83.000 total and 8th place. Zeng was not too far behind in 10th with an 81.850. Griskenas’ event scores were: hoop, 21.200; ball, 21.100; clubs, 20.850; and ribbon, 19.850. Zeng’s event scores were: hoop, 21.200; ball, 20.700; clubs, 21.300; and ribbon, 18.650. Russia’s Dina Averina clinched the all-around title at 91.400, just ahead of twin sister Arina at 91.100. Israel’s Linoy Ashram earned the bronze (89.700).

Group rhythmic gymnastics takes the stage tomorrow, and the USA competes in the first session at 2:30 p.m. Baku/6:30 a.m. ET. The members of the U.S. group are: Isabelle Connor of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Connie Du of Deerfield, Ill.; Yelyzaveta Merenzon of Buffalo Grove, Ill.; Elizaveta Pletneva of Deerfield, Ill./; Nicole Sladkov of Vernon Hills, Ill./; and Kristina Sobolevskaya of Chicago. All of them train at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center. The group competition has the all-around and event finals (top eight per event). For the Olympic Games qualifying, the top five groups in the all-around, who have not already qualified, will qualify for Tokyo.

The remaining competition schedule is below, and Baku is eight hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time.

Sept. 21, Group – Final, all-around; qualification, 5 balls, 3 hoops/2 pairs of clubs

  • 2:30 p.m. – Group A (USA, 5 balls; 3 hoops/2 pairs of clubs)
  • 4:30 p.m. – Group B

Sept. 22, Group – Final, 5 balls and 3 hoops/2 pairs of clubs

  • 2:30 p.m. – 5 Balls
  • 3:15 p.m. – 3 hoops/2 pairs of clubs

U.S. fans can watch the finals via a livestream and tape-delayed broadcast, with a simulcast, on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel, respectively. NBC Sports and the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will have coverage of the finals at FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. Fans can catch all the action in spectacular high definition via NBCSports.com/Live or through the NBC Sports app, which is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

Sept. 20 – 8 p.m. ET – Ind. all-around final – Tape-delayed Olympic Channel TV, livestream
Sept. 21 – 6:30 a.m. ET – Group all-around final – Livestream
Sept. 21 – 6 p.m. ET – Group all-around final – Tape-delayed Olympic Channel TV, livestream
Sept. 22 – 6:30 a.m. ET – Group event finals – Livestream
Sept. 22 – 10 p.m. ET – Group event finals – Tape-delayed Olympic Channel TV, livestream

The International Gymnastics Federation’s website has live results and other information.