South Korean rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae is about to face her most challenging rivals this season at the FIG World Cup competition, which will take place in Italy during the weekend, as she prepares for the upcoming Rio Summer Olympic Games.

The 21-year-old Korean gymnast is set to compete in this season’s third International Gymnastics Federation World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Pesaro, Italy from 1st to 3rd of April. Son Yeon-jae will begin to compete later in the day, where she will perform hoop and ball routine in the individual all-around event.

Son, who took the fifth place in the individual all-around event at the 2012 Olympic Games, has done an impressive job in her gymnastics career this season. The Korean rhythmic gymnast grabbed the individual all-around silver medal at the Moscow Grand Prix and at this season’s 1st FIG World Cup event in Espoo, Finland, in February. Last month, Son achieved the fourth spot in the individual all-around event of the Lisbon World Cup, but she garnered a career-high score of 18.550 on both the ball and club apparatus.

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Son will face the most challenging competition of this season at the Pesaro World Cup as two of the toughest rhythmic gymnasts – Russia’s Yana Kudryavteseva, a three-time world all-around champion, and her fellow Russian gymnast, Margarita Mamun, a two-time world all-around silver medalist will be there, competing in their first World Cup appearance this season in Pesaro.

The two Russian rhythmic gymnasts are acknowledged as the top favorites to win gold medals in the Olympic Games. They missed out on the last two World Cups so that they will be able to recover from injuries and refine their routines.

The two Russian gymnast will compete together with their compatriot Aleksandra Soldatova, who as obtained the gold medal in the last two World Cups. Also present in the competition are Ukraine’s Ganna Rizatdinova, who took the silver medal at the 2016 Lisbon World Cup, and Melitina Staniouta, who finished third at the 2015 World Championships.

Son has managed to take home medals in both the previous World Cups. At the Espoo World Cup, the Korean gymnast grabbed the gold medal in the ball event, silvers in both the individual all-around and ribbon, and bronze medal in the hoop. At the Lisbon World Cup, the 21-year-old rhythmic gymnast finished runner-up in both the ball and clubs, while also taking home the bronze in the hoop.

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Despite the fact that she has a smaller chance to snatch  some medals compared to the previous World Cups, Son can still use this competition as a great opportunity to test her level against the world’s top performers ahead of the Olympic Games. Her compatriot, Chun Song-e is also present in the competition.

After the event in Pesaro, Son will travel back home on Tuesday to prepare for the national team qualification for the Olympic Games on the 9th of April at the Taeneung National Training Center in Seoul.

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