Elizabeth Popova

Elizabeth Popova won five medals at the Rhythmic British Championships. Pic: Welsh Gymnastics

Wales Commonwealth Games Star Elizabeth Popova Bags British Five-Medal Haul

sportswales

By Carl Field

Team Wales Commonwealth Games star Elizabeth Popova marked her first Rhythmic British Championships as a senior gymnast with a five-medal haul in Telford.

Popova took bronze in the senior all-around competition on Saturday, scoring 103.950 overall across her four pieces of apparatus, which included 27.500 with the hoop, 27.700 with ball, 26.050 with clubs and 22.700 with the ribbon.

Then, returning on Sunday, she went even better to add two golds and two silvers in the apparatus finals.

She posted a top score of 29.250 with the hoop – going even better than the day before – and 26.300 with the ribbon to take gold on those two pieces, while secured silver with even better scores with ball (28.350) and also clubs (27.900).

It comes a week after Popova added the Welsh senior rhythmic all-around and all four apparatus titles to her list of honours.

The 16-year-old missed out on the British Championships through injury last year in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but selected by Team Wales was, at 15, the youngest gymnast in the Commonwealth individual all-around final, where she finished in a highly respectable 12th position.

She also qualified for the individual ball and clubs apparatus finals at those Games.

Marfa Ekimova, the reigning Commonwealth and British champion from West London Gymnastics, retained her senior British all-around title, ahead of Scottish gymnast Louise Christie.

Christie, a Commonwealth silver medallist with the ribbon, bagged British gold with ball today ahead of Popova, while Ekimova won with clubs.

Popova is coached by her mother Ioana, herself an ex-international gymnast, who is also the former national choreographer for Wales and worked with the Welsh Commonwealth Games teams in 1998 and 2002.

In recent years Ioana also been a high-performance rhythmic coach and national judge.

Popova’s father was a professional basketball player in Bulgaria and her older brother Chris Popov, 18, is a talented footballer who last year signed a professional contract with Premier League club Leicester City.

She is attached to Llanelli Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy – and it was yet another successful weekend at the British Championships for the west Wales club, who have helped set the likes of Frankie Jones, Laura Halford and Gemma Frizelle on the road to multiple British and Commonwealth titles between them over the years.

Halford is now coaching Wales’ best young rhythmic gymnasts.

One of those, Imogen Coslett, enjoyed her own five-medal haul in the Under 12 competition yesterday, picking up bronze overall, as well as silver for her free routine and bronze with ball, hoop and ribbon.

There was also medal success for Welsh junior champion Mali-Fflur Lane, who bagged bronze in the junior clubs final and also Ella-Rose Thomas, who won bronze in the Under 10 ball competition.

This year’s championships also coincide with a special 50-year anniversary celebration since British Gymnastics – or BAGA as it was then known – formally introduced the rhythmic gymnastics discipline to Great Britain.

Elizabeth Popova Grew Up In Awe Of Gymnasts . . . So Much So She Became One Herself

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