Nine rhythmic gymnasts from North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center in Deerfield, Illinois are headed for the summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The athletes qualified June 27 at the 2021 USA Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis.
"Our Olympic dream 16 years ago was to send two individual athletes and Group to the Games," says Natalia Klimouk, USA Gymnastics national team coach and director of North Shore Rhythmics. "It's the first time the U.S. has qualified the maximum number of rhythmic gymnasts -- an incredible accomplishment and testament to the dedication of our coaches and to the perseverance and commitment of our athletes." Klimouk also praised USA Gymnastics Rhythmic Program Director Caroline Hunt, a Winnetka native.
Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Illinois, and Evita Griskenas of Orland Park, Illinois, will compete in individual events. Group competitors are Isabelle Connor of Manhattan Beach, California, Camilla Feeley of Wheeling, Illinois, Lili Mizuno of Northbrook, Illinois, Elizaveta Pletneva of Wheeling, Illinois, Nicole Sladkov of Vernon Hills, Illinois and Yelyzaveta Merenzon of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. NSR's Gergana Petkova of Barrington, Illinois is the reserve athlete.
Zeng, a six-time U.S. all-around national champion, represented the United States at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Griskenas, a five-time gold medalist at the 2019 Pan American Games, is the U.S. national champion in ball.
North Shore Rhythmics coaches Angelina Yovcheva and Margarita Mamzina are also part of the USA delegation. Dani Takova is co-director of NSR.
In rhythmic gymnastics, athletes perform on a mat with a hoop, ball, clubs or ribbon. The sport, which requires flexibility, strength, and hand-eye coordination, combines elements of gymnastics and dance -- and is harder than it looks!
"NSR is honored to so fully represent the United States in Tokyo," says Klimouk. “Rhythmic gymnastics is a beautiful sport, and we’re thrilled it continues to gain popularity in the U.S.”
North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
Sachs Recreation Center
455 Lake Cook Road
Deerfield, IL 60015
Natalia Klimouk, Director, North Shore Rhythmics 847.414.0678
USA Gymnastics firstname.lastname@example.org 217.237.5050
Photos courtesy of USA Gymnastics
USA Group Team