(BEIJING, August 21) -- Gymnastics Rhythmic, the most beautiful Olympic event, will take place from August 21-24 at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.
Evgeniya Kanaeva and Olga Kapranova, both of Russia, should provide Bessonova with her most serious challenge. Kanaeva won the 2008 European All-Around title, and Kapranova won the 2005 world All-Around title. Kapranova placed third All-Around at the 2007 World Championships, which Bessonova won.
Other top challengers include Inna Zhukova of Belarus, Nataliia Godunko of Ukraine and Simona Peycheva of Bulgaria.
Zhukova placed seventh at Athens 2004 and finished just shy of the medals, in fourth place, at the 2007 World Championships. Godunko was fifth at Athens 2004 and fourth at the 2005 World Championships. Peycheva placed sixth at Athens 2004 and the 2005 World Championships.
Russia, the defending Olympic and current world champion, is heavily favored for the gold medal. Their technical precision and artistry should benefit them as they seek their third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Italy should challenge Russia for the top position. Italy finished second to Russia at Athens 2004 and at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships. Italy's routines feature expressive choreography and daring tosses of the apparatuses from gymnast to gymnast.
Although Bulgaria won the bronze medal at Athens 2004, they lost their third-place position to Belarus at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships. The competition for third place at Beijing 2008 should be between Belarus and Bulgaria, but Spain and Greece could also contend for the bronze medal.