New-look Gymnastics World Cup reaches Glasgow

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic Sports Reporter

Glasgow will host the latest leg of gymnastics' new-look World Cup series this weekend, with a strong British contingent set to take part.

World governing body the FIG has created six World Cup events for 2011, at which the world's top gymnasts participate by invite only.

Hannah Whelan and Jennifer Pinches are the top British women in Glasgow, the third World Cup event of the year.

Daniel Keatings joins European bronze medallist Dan Purvis in the men's team.

Keatings missed last week's Euros, in Berlin, but has now sufficiently recovered from a knee injury which kept him out of competitive action for a year.

Sam Hunter also competes for Britain, while European uneven bars gold medallist Beth Tweddle will be in Glasgow - but only as a spectator.

The revised World Cup format has been introduced to showcase the world's top gymnasts in six crowd-friendly "A series" events.

Glasgow hosts one of four all-around World Cups in which entrants compete on every piece of apparatus - six for men, four for women. There are two further World Cups involving individual apparatus finals only.

Whelan, who competed at the year's opening two World Cups in the United States and France, told BBC Sport: "It does sound quite special, I was pretty happy to be invited.

"I'm hoping to see if I can do any better with my routines than I did at the Europeans [where she fell in the women's all-around final]. It'll be nice to see if we can up our game a bit, we've worked hard enough."

BBC Sport understands that ticket sales for this year's Glasgow World Cup have outstripped previous years, with Whelan adding: "Before, World Cups were very busy. There was a lot of waiting around because so many gymnasts wanted to do it."

Now, a separate "B series" of events is staged for lower-ranked gymnasts.

However, despite being billed as gymnastics' best-of-the-best, the revamped World Cups face a struggle to attract the very top names to each event.

Whelan's appearance in Glasgow comes as a result of a number of top gymnasts turning down their invites, for a variety of reasons.

"If people say no or don't want to do it they keep moving down the line, so I'm chuffed to be picked and get the chance to compete," said Whelan.

"It depends what time of the year it is - some countries' gymnasts aren't willing to fly all the way to America, or the Americans aren't willing to fly here for a weekend or so.

"Then you have people who are injured or it's at the wrong time in the competition season for them - for example, some have just finished Europeans and it's their rest time, it's not the right time for them to carry on with routines in the gym."

Russian superstar Aliya Mustafina, who suffered ligament damage at the European Championships and will be out of action for several months at least, is the most obvious name missing from the Glasgow World Cup.

Others who received invitations but turned them down, or agreed to come only to later drop out, include Australia's Lauren Mitchell, Chinese duo Jiang Yuyuan and Huang Qiushuang, and Americans Jordyn Wieber and Alexandra Raisman.

However, Germany's Elisabeth Seitz - a silver medallist at the Euros in her home country last week - and Venezuela's Jessica Lopez will provide stern tests for Whelan and Pinches.

Purvis, Keatings and Hunter face the likes of Germany's Philipp Boy, American Jonathan Horton and French star Cyril Tommasone.

The World Cup series gives way to the 2011 World Championships in October, scheduled to take place in Japan, which double as a vital Olympic qualifier.

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