''Being the best in Europe is only part of my mission,'' Deviatovsky told Reuters in an interview before the Sept. 1-9 championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
''Winning the European title has been a big confidence boost for me and now I feel ready to take on the Chinese, the Japanese or whoever comes my way,'' said the 23-year-old, who finished fifth in the all-around competition at last year's worlds in Aarhus, Denmark.
''I was very disappointed to miss the podium last year by just less than half a point, but I've matured a lot since and feel now that I can compete with the best.'' China and Japan have dominated men's gymnastics in recent years while Russia, considered the sport's superpower for decades before that, have been trying to re-establish themselves at the elite level after going through troublesome times.
Russia head coach Andrei Rodionenko said the main goal was to qualify the men's and women's teams for next year's Beijing Olympics. The top 12 teams in Stuttgart will earn places for the 2008 Games.
TICKET TO BEIJING ''If both of our teams book their tickets for Beijing, then we'll be satisfied. Winning medals would be great of course, but if we don't, they won't shoot us or send us to Siberia,'' he said.
Rodionenko said his men had a better chance of winning medals than the women but that they were still unlikely to beat either the Chinese or the Japanese for the team title.
''Realistically speaking I don't think so,'' he told Reuters.
''The Chinese, for example, have a very experienced squad.
They've had virtually the same team for the last decade, while we only starting to get back from the abyss in the last two years.'' The Russians reached an all-time low at the 2004 Athens Games when they failed to win a single gold for the first time since joining the Olympic competition in 1952.
''It's going to be a long road to recovery but I think we're on the right track,'' said Rodionenko, who replaced long-serving gymnastics chief Leonid Arkayev as head coach after Athens.
The move paid immediate dividends, with Rodionenko guiding the men to second place in the team competition behind China at last year's world championships while the women took the bronze.
REUTERS SSC ND1030