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Kuksenkov Wins First Russian Cup Title
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

National champion Nikolai Kuksenkov (Vladimir) won his first Russian Cup all-around title on Friday in Penza. Pictured: Kuksenkov with runner-up Vladislav Polyashov (Cheboksary) and bronze medalist Nikita Ignatyev (Leninsk-Kuznetsky)

National champion Nikolai Kuksenkov (Vladimir) won his first Russian Cup all-around title on Friday in Penza.

Kuksenkov amassed a two-day winning total of 174.666, with 86.233 during Wednesday's team competition and improving to 88.433 on Friday. Vladislav Polyashov (Cheboksary) placed second with 173.734 (86.534/87.200), while two-time defending champion Nikita Ignatyev (Leninsk-Kuznetsky) claimed third with 173.033 (86.766/86.267).

Nikita Nagornyy (Rostov-on-Don) was the top gymnast during Wednesday's team competition with 88.733, but chose to compete three events only on Friday. Three-event specialist Denis Ablyazin qualified to finals on his events, with 15.267 on floor exercise, 15.400 on still rings and 14.967 on vault.

2012 Olympian David Belyavsky, the 2013 Russian Cup champion, is sitting out the competition in Penza. Prior to the competition, Russian coaches confirmed that the European championship-winning team of Ablyazin, Belyavsky, Ignatyev, Kuksenkov and Nagornyy would form Russia's preliminary Olympic squad to Rio, with Artur Dalaloyan and Ivan Stretovich likely alternates.

Kuksenkov, who represented his native Ukraine at the 2012 Olympic Games, said he was pleased with his performance on Friday, when he improved his score by 2.2 points from Wednesday.

"Indeed, on the first day I allowed a lot of mistakes, and on my best events," said Kuksenkov, who won the Russian championships in April. "But I found the strength, and the second day was better. The results are still not as high as we would like. We need to work on the quality of performance. More difficulty actually isn't necessary. If you look at some of the Japanese gymnasts, they earn a Difficulty score of 6.5-6.6, but with very high-level performances. Some gymnasts climb into the 7-point range but eventually get low marks. We need to correct the small errors and with these routines go to the Olympic Games."

On Friday, Kuksenkov received a letter from the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) clearing him of any wrongdoing for his positive test for a banned substance this spring. In March, a minute amount of the medication meldonium was found in his system during a routine drug test. Meldonium was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as of January 1, 2016, but more than 300 positive tests among athletes this spring led to questions on how long the drug stayed in the system, with the manufacturer stating it could be detected even months after ingestion.

Kuksenkov was among the numerous athletes who were given reprieves by WADA so long as they had only small traces of the drug in their systems and it was detected early in the year.

"This morning I was approached by head coach Andrei Rodionenko who said that the federation received a letter from the FIG, which speaks of my innocence," Kuksenkov said. "For me this is very good news, because now I can safely concentrate on preparing for the Olympic Games and not wait for any surprises."

Kuksenkov, who was notified in April of his positive test, was briefly suspended from competition pending investigation. Other athletes experienced significant fallout over meldonium, including tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, who received a two-year ban. Professional boxer Alexander Povetkin, who was forced to cancel a fight after a positive test this spring but was recently cleared by WADA, is being sued by promoters for $5 million over the cancellation.

"These three months were not easy," Kuksenkov said. "This is the most important year, the Olympic year, and you have to prove yourself and to show everything you've done these four years. And then there are such unpleasant moments when you are treated unfairly. I took meldonium in the summer of 2015 – a full six months before it was banned, and yet they found it in my body after a long time. But I think it was a deliberate action aimed at other more titled athletes like Maria Sharapova and Alexander Povetkin. Everything happens for a reason. But I don't want to go into this topic because I'm an athlete and my business is to train."

Competition continues Saturday with the first day of apparatus finals.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

2016 Russian Cup
June 28-30, Penza

Kirill Potapov14.16712.83314.26713.53313.26713.233
Andrei Cherkasov13.63311.63310.23314.23314.66712.067
Grigory Zyryanov13.40014.03312.96713.40013.73312.700
Daniil Kazachkov12.40013.46714.63314.76714.03313.733
Ivan Stretovich14.70014.46714.20015.10014.733
Nikita Ignatyev14.76714.10014.73314.73314.23314.200
Denis Ablyazin15.26715.40014.967
Artyom Arnaut12.76711.03311.06713.63312.93311.933
Andrei Makolov13.43313.60013.56715.00014.53312.267
Nikolai Kovinov12.63313.76713.50014.16713.76713.800
Valentin Starikov14.46713.93313.16712.93314.90014.067
Vladislav Polyashov14.26715.20014.06714.16714.83314.000
Emin Garibov13.26714.13313.367
Artur Dalaloyan15.03313.90012.70014.93314.86711.000
Alexei Kosyanov13.60013.66713.33313.80013.73312.700
Dmitry Lankin14.40012.80014.63314.23315.36713.167
Nikita Nagornyy13.93314.53315.00015.30015.76714.200
Stanislav Khegai12.70011.86711.56713.20012.76713.100
Nikolai Kuksenkov15.06713.43314.70014.23315.30013.500
Alexei Rostov14.43313.96713.93314.23313.06714.300
Kirill Prokopyev15.00014.13313.93313.63313.46711.533
Ilya Kibartas13.93312.83314.06713.73314.23312.733
Yevgeny Vasilyev13.86713.43312.06713.36712.46712.900
Sergei Krivunets12.46713.16711.96713.70013.53312.600
Mikhail Kudashov14.46713.76714.433
Sergei Danilenko14.10014.06713.30013.60014.13313.033
Nikita Vasilyev11.23310.50011.83312.46712.50012.167
Viktor Britan14.13313.83313.60014.86713.80012.900
Ivan Cherkashev12.23310.467
6.Southern 39.60024.900 25.43326.634116.567
Boris Lozhkin12.00013.13313.10013.267
Alexei Bykov13.50011.767
Sergei Yeltsov14.10012.33313.367
*Incurred 1.0 Neutral Deduction

Men's All-AroundFXPHSRVTPBHBTotalCombined
1.Nikolai KuksenkovVladimir15.06713.43314.70014.23315.30013.50086.233174.666
2.Vladislav PolyashovCheboksary14.26715.20014.06714.16714.83314.00086.534173.734
3.Nikita IgnatyevLeninsk-Kuznetsky / Novosibirsk14.76714.10014.73314.73314.23314.20086.766173.033
4.Dmitry LankinMoscow / Rostov-on-Don14.40012.80014.63314.23315.36713.16784.600169.301
5.Alexei RostovVladimir14.43313.96713.93314.23313.06714.30083.933168.767
6.Artur DalaloyanMoscow15.03313.90012.70014.93314.86711.00082.433167.534
7.Daniil KazachkovNovosibirsk / Penza12.40013.46714.63314.76714.03313.73383.033166.000
8.Kirill PotapovTomsk14.16712.83314.26713.53313.26713.23381.300165.966
9.Viktor BritanChelyabinsk14.13313.83313.60014.86713.80012.90083.133164.267
10.Sergei DanilenkoChelyabinsk14.10014.06713.30013.60014.13313.03382.233163.600
11.Nikolai KovinovSyzran / Penza12.63313.76713.50014.16713.76713.80081.634163.134
12.Ilya KibartasVladimir13.93312.83314.06713.73314.23312.73381.532162.465
13.Grigory ZyryanovLeninsk-Kuznetsky / Novosibirsk13.40014.03312.96713.40013.73312.70080.233161.066
14.Ivan TikhonovSyzran / Penza13.10013.83311.86713.10013.60013.63379.133159.066
15.Alexei KosyanovMoscow13.60013.66713.33313.80013.73312.70080.833158.566
16.Andrei LagutovLeninsk-Kuznetsky14.40012.13311.80013.66714.26713.60079.867158.234
17.Alexei KozlovMoscow14.30011.10012.33313.60013.46713.00077.800156.700
18.Yevgeny VasilyevVladimir13.86713.43312.06713.36712.46712.90078.101156.067
19.Stanislav KhegaiMoscow12.70011.86711.56713.20012.76713.10075.201154.368
20.Kirill ProkopyevVladimir / Smolensk15.00014.13313.93313.63313.46711.53381.699152.966
21.Artyom ArnautPenza12.76711.03311.06713.63312.93311.93373.366152.734
22.Ivan TsvetkovKostroma13.03312.56711.56713.03312.90012.50075.600150.567
23.Mikhail TsvetkovKostroma12.06710.80012.03312.00012.36711.53370.800139.934
24.Nikita VasilyevChelyabinsk11.23310.50011.83312.46712.50012.16770.700138.567
25.Nikita NagornyyMoscow / Rostov-on-Don13.93314.53315.00015.30015.76714.20088.733131.433
26.Valentin StarikovSizran14.46713.93313.16712.93314.90014.06783.467104.200
27.Kirill KozinTomsk11.06710.80012.26714.00010.70013.10071.93495.968
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