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Russia-born gymnast Kharenkova changes sports citizenship to join Georgian team

Russian gymnastics head coach sees no sense in objecting Kharenkova’s move to Georgia

MOSCOW, August 29. /TASS/. Former Russia’s gymnast Maria Kharenkova has changed her sports citizenship and will be now performing for Georgia, the press office of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) reported on Thursday.

The world’s governing gymnastics body has issued a permission for the 20-year-old gymnast to perform for another national team. A decision to issue such permission was made at the FIG Executive Committee Meeting in Nicaragua’s Managua on August 21-22.

Stance of the national team's head coach

It was senseless objecting to gymnast Maria Kharenkova’s decision to join the Georgian national team, as she had no perspectives of competing for Russia, Valentina Rodionenko, the head coach of the Russian gymnastics team, told TASS on Thursday.

"Maria failed to make the national team’s roster as she was not showing gymnastics at the level required for the Russian national team," Rodionenko said in an interview with TASS.

"Georgia extended an invitation for her and she took the privilege of changing the team, where she will be able to compete at the World Championships, European Championships and the Olympic Games," the coach continued.

"She will be the leader in the new team and this is why we acted humanely and decided against closing the door for her," Rodionenko said.

According to the head coach, athletes, who lost their place in the Russian national team, often change sports citizenship moving to compete for teams of the neighboring countries.

"We had athletes, who left to perform for Azerbaijan and for Belarus and we did not object at all," Rodionenko said. "However, we are not letting go athletes that we need and who have perspectives."

The gymnast's achievements

Kharenkova is bronze medal winner of the 2014 World Championships in the team event, the 2014 European champion in the balance beam event, the 2015 European Championship’s silver medalist in the all-around event and the 2014 European Championship’s bronze medalist in the team event.

The 2019 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships will be held in Germany’s Stuttgart between October 4 and 13.