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Evita Griskenas, Laura Zeng Secure Two U.S. Olympic Quota Spots In Rhythmic For The First Time Since 1992

By Karen Price | Sept. 20, 2019, 1:12 p.m. (ET)

Evita Griskenas competing in the all-around competition at the 2019 FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships on Sept. 20, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan.


For the first time since 1992, the U.S. will be sending two rhythmic gymnasts to the Olympic Games.

Evita Griskenas and Laura Zeng finished eighth and 10th, respectively, in Friday’s all-around competition at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, both well within the cutoff of the top 16 athletes who earned quota spots for their countries at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The maximum a country could qualify was two.

Team USA hasn’t had two rhythmic gymnasts at an Olympic Games since Jennifer Lovell and Tamara Levinson competed in 1992 in Barcelona.

Zeng was the lone U.S. Olympian in the sport in 2016.

Friday’s finish was an improvement for both athletes from their qualifying scores. Griskenas qualified for the all-around finals in 10th place and Zeng qualified in 13th place.

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Zeng, whose all-around bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 was the first medal for an American rhythmic gymnast at an Olympic event, also had the highest finish ever by a U.S. rhythmic gymnast in the all-around at worlds with a sixth-place performance in 2017. Griskenas made her world championships debut in 2017 and finished 11th in the all-around, her highest placement before Friday.

Both Zeng and Griskenas started the all-around final with the hoop event and both scored 21.200 to start off in the top seven of their group. Moving to the ball event, Griskenas scored a 21.100 and Zeng a 20.700 to stay in the top eight. Zeng moved into sixth with her score of 21.300 with the clubs while Griskenas scored a 20.850 to go into the final apparatus, ribbon, sitting in seventh place. Griskenas closed out the all-around with a score of 19.850 on the ribbon, and Zeng followed with a score of 18.650.

Griskenas totaled 83.000 points, and Zeng scored 81.850. Russia’s Dina Averina took gold with a score of 91.400, while her sister Arina Averina took silver with a score of 91.100. The all-around world title was Dina’s third in a row.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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