© Ricardo Bufolin

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 18, 2019 – Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and Evita Griskenas of Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, are currently eighth and 10th, respectively, after the first of two days of clubs qualification at the 2019 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan. Qualifications conclude tomorrow with the second day of clubs and ribbon, with the event finals tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. local time. U.S.-based fans can watch the clubs and ribbon finals live at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel, both on television and online. The seven-day championships has competition in both individual and group rhythmic gymnastics, and berths to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, and the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Ala., are on the line.

In the first half of the clubs qualification, Zeng posted a 21.150 for eighth, with Griskenas at 20.700 for 10th place, and Camilla Feeley of Deerfield, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, at 18.350 for 26th. Russia’s Arina Averina claimed the day’s top clubs mark at 24.250, just edging out her twin sister, Dina, at 24.000. Ukraine’s Vlada Nikolchenko currently has the third best score (23.450). Israel’s Linoy Ashram snared the day’s top mark for ribbon with a 21.150. The U.S. gymnasts will compete in the ribbon qualification tomorrow.

After three events in the all-around qualification, Dina Averina has tallied a score of 71.350 for the top spot, with a comfortable lead over Israel’s Linoy Ashram at 65.950. Nikolchenko is third with 65.300. Griskenas is in sixth place (62.900), and Zeng is eighth (62.250). The all-around final is on Sept. 20. The top 24 gymnasts, maximum two per country, will advance to the all-around finals based on the gymnast’s top three of four or three scores from the qualification round. The U.S. is currently in sixth place on the team rankings at 143.500. Russia holds the number one-spot at this point, with a 164.800. Belarus is a distant second at 148.000, followed by Israel with 146.200. The team rankings will be final at the conclusion of the qualification round.

For the Olympic Games, the top 16, max two per country, in the final all-around rankings and the top five groups in the all-around, who have not already qualified, will qualify for Tokyo. For the 2021 World Games, the top 20 in the all-around final, as well as four wild cards from the qualification round, will earn berths to Birmingham.

The championships features finals in the all-around, with the top 24 from qualifications, and event finals, top eight from qualifications, with a max of two per country. There also is a team ranking based on the top eight of 10 scores from the qualification round (two hoop, two ball, three clubs and three ribbon routines). The group competition has the all-around and event finals (top eight per event).

Group rhythmic gymnastics begins Sept. 21, and the U.S. group includes 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 remaining competition schedule is below, and Baku is eight hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time.

Sept. 19, Qualification rounds/Finals, clubs and ribbon

  • 9 a.m. – Group B (USA, 1, 2 and 3/ribbon)
  • 11:15 a.m. – Group A
  • 2:10 p.m. – Group D
  • 4:05 p.m. – Group C
  • 7:30 p.m. – Finals, clubs and ribbon

Sept. 20, Final, all-around

  • 2:30 p.m. – Group B (rank 13-24)
  • 5:30 p.m. – Group A (rank 1-12)

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. 19 – 11:30 a.m. ET – Clubs, ribbon finals – Live/Olympic Channel TV, livestream
Sept. 20 – 6:30 a.m. ET – Ind. all-around final – Livestream
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.