“every year I see a new Courtney” (Elefterious)
8th August 2018 – One of the toughest apparatus for male gymnasts is undoubtedly the rings, where they must combine brute strength with poise and artistry. One gymnast reigns supreme here: Olympic, twice world and three times European champion, Eleftherios Petrounias. Aged 27, he is aiming for his fourth consecutive European rings title in Glasgow. However, he faces a strong challenge from 22-year-old Courtney Tulloch. I spoke to them both before the rings final at the 2018 European championships.
Courtney won the European silver medal on rings behind Elefterious last year, and became Commonwealth Games rings champion earlier this year. He knows Eleftherios is the man to beat, but he shows respect for him too. When asked what his message would be to his rival, he says “I’d tell him, ‘all the best, good luck, just go out and I hope you smash it’.”
However, with his sights set on a European medal, Courtney admits “I don’t want him to get that fourth gold in a row. I don’t want it to go to plan for him.”
Meanwhile, defending rings champion Elefterious says “always, my message for everyone is may the best man win.”
But he is confident that it will be difficult for Courtney to overtake him.
“I think he knows it,” Elefterious says with a smile. “He knows my past, what I have done the last few years, so he knows what he has to deal with. But he’s younger – every year I see a new Courtney, so now I’m waiting to see what he has prepared.”
Elefterious did indeed win the gold medal, despite a niggling shoulder injury. Courtney took the bronze medal behind Ibrahim Colak of Turkey. Courtney showed a new element in his routine which will be named after him in the code of points.