jeudi 31 décembre 2015

My 2015 Belgian gymnastics highlights!

Now that the year is almost over, it is time to have a look back to the best moments of the 2015 gymnastics season!

I tried to choose my favourite moments and to establish a ranking but I have to say, I changed my mind at least a thousand times. So, here we go ...

5. The Juniors (all of them)
For many years now, Belgium has produced very promising young gymnasts and some have said that this year's Juniors were the best our country has had. As I was reading other gymnastics blogs, I couldn't help but notice that our Juniors, and the ones turning Seniors in 2016 in particular, caught the eyes of those bloggers and fans. Of course, we have Nina Derwael and Axelle Klinckaert. Nina's uneven bars routine is astonishing and everybody was talking about Axelle's floor routine. But let's not forget Julie Meyers and Senna Deriks, who had a great year, as they competed in several international events (FIT Challenge, EYOF, Massilia, Top Gym) and had the chance to gain some more experience. There are also Maellyse Brassart and Chloé Leblicq. They won't turn Seniors until 2017 so they will mostly have a look on the 2020 Olympics. But before that, they will try to earn a spot in the Juniors team for the European Championships. New Juniors such as Amy Lejeune already competed in some tournaments this year, mostly in the Youth or Espoirs categories.

On the men's side, the year was also very busy with Noah Kuavita, Iliaz Pyncket and Takumi Onoshima competing at the European Youth Olympic Festival where they qualified in for 4 finals. Others like Lukas Fickers, Justin Pesesse or Jonas Delvael also took part in friendly meets where they had the opportunity to compete against some of the best Juniors gymnasts. Iliaz and Lukas will be 18 in 2016 and will join the Seniors ranks.

I couldn't choose one single event (except for EYOF, read below) as our gymnasts shone more than once this year.

4. European Games
I didn't know what to expect from this brand new competition. At first, I thought "ok, it is like a mini European Championships/European Olympic Games". I was very impatient to see how it would work and what our Belgian gymnasts would do. I know my blog is focusing on artistic gymnastics, but I'd like to talk a bit about our acro gymnasts. The results they had in Baku were amazing. Even more than that! 3 golds for Ineke van Schoor, Kaat Dumarey and Julie van Gelder and 3 silvers for Yana Vastavel and Solano Cassamajor. I didn't know a thing about acrobatic gymnastics but I've learned to like it and I really hope this sport will become an Olympic discipline in the future.

Credit: Reporters/Imago Sport
Now, back to our artistic gymnasts. On the men's side, Belgium was represented by Gilles Gentges, Luka Van Den Keybus and Jimmy Verbaeys. In Baku, they placed 18th as a team and Jimmy advanced to the all-around final where he finished in 16th place.

Gaelle Mys, Lisa Verschueren and Cindy Vandenhole placed 10th as a team. In the all-around final, Gaelle was close to the podium, finishing in 6th place, 1.5 points away from a medal. But the best result (and maybe the most frustrating one) came on the floor exercise final, where Lisa ranked 4th, just outside of the podium.

As we didn't know how would this competition go, I think team Belgium had pretty good results. I really enjoyed watching this competition and I think that for a first, it was a good way to prepare for what came next in the season.

3. European Youth Olympic Festival
What? Only in 3rd place? Yeah, I know... But as I said, you could swap places between my top 5 events, I'd still like it anyway. The European Youth Olympic festival is like a mini-Juniors European Championships. Belgium has shone there in the past but the 2015 edition was just the best in my opinion: 6 medals and 11 finals!

If the boys didn't bring home any medal, they still reached four finals. Iliaz Pyncket, Noah Kuavita and Takumi Onoshima placed 8th as a team. And they could have ranked higher as they had mistakes. Noah and Takumi then advanced to the all-around final, where they both reached the top 15 (Noah was 13th, Takumi was 15th). Iliaz also qualified for two finals, on floor exercise and horizontal bar (5th).

This year's EYOF was Julie Meyers' first big competition and she helped team Belgium by winning a silver medal. Individually, she placed 26th in the all-around. In addition to the team silver, Nina Derweal then placed 4th in the all-around before winning two medals: silver on bars, just 0.050 away for the gold medal, and bronze on floor. But the most successful gymnast in Tbilisi was Axelle Klinckart, who won three other medals, in addition to the one she had with the team. She first won silver in the all-around. She had the exact same score as Russia's Daria Skrypnik but due to the tie-breaking rule, she earned a silver medal. But she then came back strong from this to win two golds, on balance beam and floor exercise.

2. 2015 Worlds: all-around finalists
I wanted to establish a ranking here, between our all-arounders. But then I thought that I had no right to choose between them, to put one performance ahead of the others. And I couldn't do so even if I wanted to. Because the all-around performances of our gymnasts were simply all historical. For the first time ever, a male gymnast from Belgium qualified for the all-around. And even if this experience didn't go as planned for Florian Landuyt, only 19, we can't take anything away from what he has achieved in Glasgow. Florian impressed me by his ability to come back strong after a mistake. He didn't have a good podium training, but he came back strong in team final. He didn't have the best all-around debut, but he didn't let go and continued his routines. Surely, finishing an all-around competition on an injury is every gymnast's nightmare but Florian is young and I'm sure we'll see him again in final in the future.

On the girl's side, history was made too. It wasn't the first time two gymnasts qualified for an all-around final (Gaelle Mys and Laura Waem did so in 2013), but Rune Hermans and Lisa verschueren were the first one to finish both in the top 20. In addition to that, they were solid on both team qualifications and all-around final. There were some concerns about balance beam, as our gymnasts seemed to struggle on this event. But when it had to count, it counted, and our gymnasts delivered good performances. In the all-around, Rune and Lisa improved their qualification rankings. I knew they could do it, but their performance is truly amazing and will be remembered. Rune was a promising Junior and she continued to step up her game to become a lock on the team. As for Lisa, well ... We all know what happened to her recently. And while it is heartbreaking, this result will remain a historical moment. Being 17th in the World, the best ranking ever at Worlds for a belgian gymnast, is something Belgian fans will not forget.

1. 2015 Worlds: teams performances
Is this a surprise? I'm sure you saw that coming. Not only our gymnasts made history individually, they also made history as teams, though on different levels. The women's team placed 11th for the second year in a row, increasing their team total and qualifying for the Rio Test Event (April, 17) for the second time. Let's be honest, if this result is superb, it isn't really a surprise. The top 16 was our team's goal for a long time and it would have been a huge setback if the team didn't qualify for the Test Event. Nevertheless, their performance is still a great result and shows that Belgium is now a team you have to take into account. 

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
I, personnally, was more impressed with the men's team result. They already made history last year by qualifying for a pre-olympic World Championships for the first time ever. They made history once again by placing 17th in team qualifications, just one spot away from the Test Event. Disappointment was everybody's first reaction (mine included, although, as I mentionned it in my recap article, I was disappointed for them, and not in them), but then, you realize they achieved a result nobody was expecting. You hope for it, you pray for it, it slowly sinks in into your mind that they could do it, but you never truly believes it. Not because our men's team isn't good. On the contrary, I think the men's team is the best we ever had and a lot of new talents are coming. But because it just wasn't expected. There were no real expectations about our men's team. We were just happy for them to be there, but we never thought they could rank that high. And honnestly, that's a shame. For years now, the boys increased their difficulty, increased their skills, polished what they already performed and had an amazing team spirit. Knowing they ranked 17th in the World is phenomenal when you know where they came from and there is no doubt to me that they will qualify a full team for the 2020 Test Event (and who knows? Maybe the 2020 Olympics).

mercredi 16 décembre 2015

Lisa Verschueren has to retire

After feeling faint on Sunday, Lisa Verschueren was taken to the hospital where the doctors discovered a heart condition. Lisa will undergo surgery in the next few days as she will have to have a defibrillator. 

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
It is always sad when a gymnast retires, but it is even sader when it wasn't the gymnast's choice. Lisa Verschueren (Sportiva Sint-Gilli-Waas) was a great asset for Team belgium, always consistent, always there when the team needed her and she definitely was a contender for the 2016 Olympic team. Lisa has been part of the National Team for the past four years as a Senior. She made her senior debut in 2011, and she was already very promising at only 16 years old. She competed at four World Championships (2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015) and three European Championships (2011, 2012 and 2014). Belgian Champion in 2014, she got stronger and steadier with years, gaining experience for what would have been the ultimate goal: the Olympic Games. 

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans

This year, Lisa competed at the very first European Games, where she qualified for the floor exercise final and finished in 4th place. In Glasgow, at Worlds, she helped the team qualify for the Rio Test Event but she also was the best Belgian. She qualified for the all-around final and got the best result ever achieved by a Belgian gymnast at this level: a 17th place finish.

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
I always loved Lisa on floor, which I think, is her best event. She always put so much epressiveness in her routines and the last one she got truly matches her. She will be missed among the fans and among her teammates with whom she had so many beautiful memories. But now, it is time for her to take care of herself. I have no doubt the future has great plans for her and no matter what, Lisa will be remembered as one of the gymnasts who left her mark in Belgian gymnastics history. Lisa, thank you for everything you've done for the sport. We love you! 

Career highlights:
2015 - World Championships (Glasgow) : 11th (team), 17th (all-around)
2015 - European Games (Baku) : 10th (team), 22nd (all-around), 4th (floor exercise)
2015 - FIT Challenge (Gent) : 2nd (team), 7th (all-around)
2015 - Belgian Championships : 3rd (all-around)
2014 - World Championships (Nanning) : 11ème (team), 30th (all-around)
2014 - Belgian Championships : 1st (all-around)
2014 - European Championships (Sofia) : 7th (team)
2014 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal) : 5th (all-around), 2nd (uneven bars)
2013 - Belgian Championships : 2nd (all-around)
2013 - World Challenger Cup (Doha) : 8th (uneven bars)
2013 - World Championships (Antwerp) : 36th (all-around)
2013 - Gymfinales (Gent) : 2nd (balance beam)
2012 - Belgian Championships : 3rd (all-around)
2012 - European Championships (Brussels) : 6th (team)
2012 - Olympic Games Test Event (London) : 5th (team)
2011 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal) : 18th (all-around), 9th (balance beam)
2011 - European Championships (Berlin) : 31st (balance beam), 29th (floor exercise)
2011 - World Championships (Tokyo) : 16th (team)
2010 - Juniors European Championships (Birmingham) : 11th (team)

samedi 12 décembre 2015

Tournoi International of Pas-de-Calais: two silvers for Dorien Motten!

As well as the Espoirs, Juniors and Seniors gymnasts competed this weekend in Arques. Let's have a look at all the results! 

Four gymnasts, three juniors and one senior, competed in the all-around and team competition on Friday. Marthe Hoskens, paired together with Dorien Motten, ranked 5th. Manon Muller and Alisha Senders placed 8th.

Team results Juniors/Seniors:
1. Eremina/Akhaimova (RUS) 105.867
2. Cheong/Sayfulina (RUS) 101.767
3. Brown/Arcand (CAN) 101.033
5. Hoskens/Motten (BEL) 100.500
8. Senders/Muller (BEL) 96.433

On the Juniors' side, Alisha Senders is the first belgian, placing 4th, ahead of Marthe Hoskens (5th) and Manon Muller (7th).

AA results Juniors:
1. Elena Eremina (RUS) 54.833
2. Louise McColgan (SCO) 51.033
3. Valeryia Sayfulina (RUS) 50.100
4. Alisha Senders (BEL) 48.933
5. Marthe Hoskens (BEL) 48.267
8. Manon Muller (BEL) 47.500

Dorien Motten was the only Senior for Team Belgium. She placed 2nd and won a beautiful silver medal! 

AA results Seniors:
1. Rebecca Moore (WAL) 53.167
2. Dorien Motten (BEL) 52.233
3. Anastasia Cheong (RUS) 51.667

Credit: AMGA Arques Facebook
In the event finals, Juniors and Seniors competed together. Dorien Motten won another silver medal, this time on uneven bars! 

1. Elena Eremina (RUS) 14.167
2. Lilia Akhaimova (RUS) 14.067
3. Shaelyn Brown (CAN) 13.751

Uneven bars:
1. Elena Eremina (RUS) 14.200
2. Dorien Motten (BEL) 12.800
3. Georgina Hockenhull (GBR) 12.667

Balance beam:
1. Elena Eremina (RUS) 13.867
2. Asiana Peng (ROU) 13.500
3. Denisa Stanciu (ROU) 12.867
7. Manon Muller (BEL) 12.334

Floor exercise:
1. Lilia Akhaimova (RUS) 13.600
2. Elena Eremina (RUS) 13.100
3. Rebecca Moore (WAL) 12.967
7. Dorien Motten (BEL) 12.400

Full results here

Tournoi International of Pas-de-Calais: Belgium Espoirs shine!

This weekend, Arques hosted its traditional international tournament, a great competition for juniors, seniors but also espoirs gymnasts to shine and earn experience. It was the case of Team Belgium! 

On Friday, gymnasts competed in the all-around and team finals. On the girls' side, Amy Lejeune won the bronze medal. Russia's Alena Belomoeva won gold, ahead of Kacey Morrison from Scotland.

AA results Espoirs WAG:
1. Alena Belomoeva (RUS) 49.833
2. Kacey Morrison (SCO) 48.467
3. Amy Lejeune (BEL) 48.267
6. Luna Cassart (BEL) 46.433
7. Sophia Kola (BEL) 44.900
8. Neila Damri (BEL) 44.400

Credit: AMGA Arques Facebook
As a team, Amy Lejeune and Sophia Kola placed 3rd. Mixed team Canada/Russia won gold ahead of team Scotland. 

Team results Espoirs WAG:
1. Belomoeva (RUS)/King (CAN) 97.133
2. Hollins/Morrison (SCO) 94.967
3. Lejeune/Kola (BEL) 93.167
4. Cassart/Damri (BEL) 90.833

Credit: AMGA Arques Facebook
On the boys' side, Nicola Cuyle is the first Belgian by placing 4th. Victor Yeo (GBR) placed 1st ahead of Russia's Vladislav Gudz and Sam Mostowfi, also from Great Britain.

AA results Espoirs MAG:
1. Victor Yeo (GBR) 76.000
2. Vladislav Gudz (RUS) 75.700
3. Sam Mostowfi (GBR) 74.150
4. Nicola Cuyle (BEL) 73.800
7. Maan De Beul (BEL) 68.550
7. Bram De Ridder (BEL) 68.550
9. Glen Cuyle (BEL) 67.650

Nicola and Glen Cuyle won a bronze medal as a team. Great Britain won gold ahead of Russia. 

Team results Espoirs MAG:
1. Yeo/Mostowfi (GBR) 150.150
2. Gudz/Prostakov (RUS) 149.450
3. Cuyle/Cuyle (BEL) 141.450
4. De Maan/De Ridder (BEL) 137.100

But it was not over for our gymnasts! Event finals took place today. Amy Lejeune showed all her talent and won three medals : two golds (vault and floor) and a silver (beam). She also placed 4th on bars. Neila Damri won bronze on bars and Sophia Kola placed 3rd on beam.

1. Amy Lejeune (BEL) 13.000
2. Kacey Morrison (SCO) 12.851
3. Anna Hollins (SCO) 12.767
5. Luna Cassart (BEL) 12.667
7. Sophia Kola (BEL) 12.167

Uneven bars:
1. Alena Belomoeva (RUS) 12.200
2. Sophia King (CAN) 11.034
3. Neila Damri (BEL) 10.767
4. Amy Lejeune (BEL) 10.634
5. Sophia Kola (BEL) 10.267

Balance beam:
1. Sophia King (CAN) 13.034
2. Amy Lejeune (BEL) 12.267
3. Sophia Kola (BEL) 12.000
5. Neila Damri (BEL) 11.400
8. Luna Cassart (BEL) 10.167

Floor exercise:
1. Amy Lejeune (BEL) 12.734
1. Alena Belomoeva (RUS) 12.734
3. Sophia King (CAN) 12.200
4. Luna Cassart (BEL) 12.167
7. Sophia Kola (BEL) 11.967
8. Neila Damri (BEL) 10.167

Medals too for the boys : Bram De Ridder and Glen Cuyle both won bronze on floor and horizontal bar respectively. 

Floor exercise:
1. Vladislav Gudz (RUS) 13.950
2. Victor Yeo (GBR) 13.450
3. Bram De Ridder (BEL) 12.900
7. Nicola Cuyle (BEL) 11.950

Pommel horse:
1. Vladislav Gudz (RUS) 13.750
2. Victor Yeo (GBR) 12.550
3. Timofei Prostakov (RUS) 12.450
4. Glen Cuyle (BEL) 12.400
6. Nicola Cuyle (BEL) 11.850

Parallel bars:
1. Vladislav Gudz (RUS) 14.100
2. Victor Yeo (GBR) 13.500
3. Sam Mostowfi (GBR) 13.400
4. Glen Cuyle (BEL) 13.250
5. Nicola Cuyle (BEL) 13.200

horizontal bars:
1. Vladislav Gudz (RUS) 13.400
2. Victor Yeo (GBR) 12.650
3. Glen Cuyle (BEL) 12.000
3. Sam Mostowfi (GBR) 12.000
5. Nicola Cuyle (BEL) 11.900

Full results here

lundi 30 novembre 2015

Top Gym 2015: Belgium shines in finals!

Yesterday, Belgium shone at the 2015 Top Gym to end what was one of the best edition of the competition so far. The Belgian Juniors won 6 medals in finals.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
One of my favourite things at the Top Gym is the team competition. The concept is simple : to pair together two countries which will compete together. This year, Russia and the Netherlands won gold. Belgium won two more medals as Belgium 1 (Senna Deriks and Axelle Klinckaert) and South Africa, as well as Belgium 2 (Maellyse Brassart and Julie Meyers) with Spain, won silver and bronze. France, paired together with Gymnos Charleroi, came in 4th.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
In apparatuses finals, Belgium once again showed how great the Juniors are as Axelle Klinckaert (GymMax) won two gold medals and Senna Deriks (Gymgroep AS) won one silver and one bronze.

On vault, Axelle performed a Yurchenko full twist and a front handspring piked somersault with half turn. She scored 14.266. In 2nd and 3rd place were the two Russians, Angelina Simakova (14.150) and Uliana Perebinosova (13.900).

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
For many years now, France is known for its bars work and the team proved it once again in Charleroi by placing its two gymnasts on the podium. Alison Lepin won gold Alison Lepin (14.466) and Oréane Lechenault (14.366) won the bronze medal. Between the two French is Belgium's Senna Deriks. She won silver with a very good routine to earn 14.433. She performed a Weiler with half turn, a sky-high Shaposhnikova and a Tkatchev release.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Balance beam was an issue for the gymnasts. Stress and maybe some fatigue were in the line when it came to beam and we could see a lot of falls. On the contrary, Russian gymnast Angelina Simakova was confident and performed a stellar routine to win the gold medal with 14.100. Oréane Lechenault of France won a second medal, silver this time (12.750), ahead of Senna Deriks, 3rd, with 12.600.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Floor exercise was definitely a showdown for the audience with impressive tumblings and beautiful choreography. Now famous among the fans, Axelle Klinckaert's routine was the highlight of the competition. She won the gold by presenting a double layout, a full twisting double back, a double pike and a double tuck to score 14.300. Axelle always shows a lot of expressiveness  with this routine. Silver and gold went to Russia, who was one of the winners at this year's Top Gym (2 golds, 2 silvers and 3 bronzes). Angelina Simakova (14.250) placed 2nd and Uliana Perebinosova (13.700) was 3rd.

I really loved Simakova's routine : 

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
This year's Top Gym was a success, despite the fact a lot of teams withdrew. The ones who were there put up a show and we'll see some of those gymnasts again in the future. Starting by Belgian Juniors, who got the best result ever achieved by Belgium at the Top Gym so far. 

In addition to Axelle and Senna's performances, Maellyse Brassart (Gym Phénix) and Julie Meyers (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw) were great too. They didn't win medals but they showed what they were capable of (and I'm sure they can do even better). Maellyse placed 5th on vault, 8th on bars, 12th on beam and 8th on floor. Julie ranked 7th on bars and 9th on beam.

The next competition will be the Tournoi International du Pas-de-Calais (December 11-12).

Watch the videos here
Pictures here and here

Full results here

dimanche 29 novembre 2015

Top Gym 2015: gold for Axelle Klinckaert!

Next stop for our Junior gymnasts: the Top Gym in Charleroi, one of the most prestigious international competitions in the World. And here in Charleroi, a Belgian gymnast won the all-around title for the first time!

Credit: belgian Gymnastics
I admit it, I was super excited to come back here. I realized I didn’t come in 13 years! When I was still a gymnast, this competition was the one to go to and I hoped that one day I would compete there.

But this article is not about me. This 18th Top Gym was organized in a strange situation. Because of the terrorist attacks in Paris and because our country was in maximal alert, the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Romania and Israel cancelled their participation. And the tournament was one somersault away from being cancelled too.

But the organizers fought for it. And they were right. For the first time ever, a Belgian gymnast won the all-around title: Axelle Klinckaert (GymMax). And the fact that several countries withdrew wouldn’t have changed much about it. With the withdrawal of her teammate Nina Derwael (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw) because of a foot injury, all eyes were on Axelle. She had an amazing year (two gold medals and two silvers at the European Youth Olympic Festival, two silver medals in Marseille last week).

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
In front of her home crowd, she only had one mistake, a fall on balance beam on her back handspring, back handspring to layout somersault (13.500). On floor, where her routine is now admired by a lot of fans from all around the World, she captivated the audience and she got the best score on this event (13.950). But the best was yet to come. She almost got a perfect score on vault : 9.766 in execution for her Yurchenko full twist (14.766).

Just behind Axelle is another Belgian, Senna Deriks (Gymgroep AS). I was impressed by her on balance beam (13.600) and uneven bars (13.750). On vault, she performed a front handspring piked somersault with half turn (14.033). Senna is definitely a name that you have to remember for the future. As Axelle and Nina, Senna will turn Senior in 2016 and will be eligible for the Test Event.

In 3rd place is Russia’s Uliana Perebinosova. Russian champion on uneven bars, she unfortunately fell but still scored 13.350.

Julie Meyers, for Team Belgium, is in 5th place. Last week in Marseille, Julie had a rough day but I knew she could do better and shed id in Charleroi. She got 14.233 on vault and 13.400 on uneven bars, the 2nd scores of the team on this events.

This Saturday wasn’t a good day for Maellyse Brassart (Gym Phénix). She fell twice on bars and once on beam. But she finished strong on vault and floor, earning 14.400 and 13.600 respectively. Maellyse is still young. She will turn Senior in 2017, so she has plenty of time to earn some experience. Her goal in 2016 will be the European Junior Championships.

1. Axelle Klinckaert (BEL) 55.316
2. Senna Deriks (BEL) 54.883
3. Uliana Perebinosova (RUS) 54.033
5. Julie Meyers (BEL) 53.183
11. Maellyse Brassart (BEL) 50.500

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
The team competition and the event finals took place this Sunday. The team from Gymnos Charleroi competed with team France. Russia and the Netherlands paired up. Belgium 1 (Senna Deriks and Axelle Klinckaert) competed with South Africa and Belgium 2 (Maellyse Brassart and Julie Meyers) with Spain.

Two scores count in the team total.

I'll post the recap tomorrow!

mercredi 25 novembre 2015

Top Gym 2015: find out who will be there!

The gymnastics season continues for our Junior gymnasts! After Combs-La-Ville and Marseille and before Arques, they will compete in Charleroi for the Top Gym. Find out here which countries will be there. 

The Top Gym is one of the most prestigious international junior competition in Europe. This event has seen the participation of amazing gymnasts who then became European, World or Olympic champions. 

This edition is not different, even if there will take place under particular conditions. Due to the recent events in Europe and in Brussels, the organisation had to face with withdrawals such as the ones of the American gymnasts Jordan Chiles and Ragan Smith. The american website Gymnastike was also set to livestream the competition but cancelled its venue. 

However, there will be a fierce competition, as the organisers will count on the participation of the great Belgian juniors gymnasts, as well as some of the best gymnasts from Spain, Quebec or Russia! 

Here is the roster (note that this roster is subject to change):

South Africa
Naveen Daries 
Caitlin Rooskrantz

Laurie-Lou Vezina 
Victoria Jurca 

Belgium (FRBG)
Nina Derwael 
Axelle Klinckaert 
Senna Deriks 
Julie Meyers 
Maellyse Brassart 

Belgium (Gymnos)
Cassia Priels 
Doriane Dehombreux 
Esther Marmignon 
Coline Soumoy 

Helena Bonilla
Laura Bechdeju

Alison Lepin 
Oréane Lechenault 

Kirsten Polderman 
Marieke Van Egmond 

Anastasia Iliankova 
Uliana Perebinosova 

Belgium will of course be one of the dominant countries in terms of representation with two teams. Axelle KlinckaertNina DerwaelJulie MeyersSenna Deriks and Maellyse Brassart recently competed in Marseille where Axelle and Nina won 3 medals for Team Belgium. They will be the ones to watch this weekend. 

How will it work ? 

Saturday November 28:
At 6pm, gymnasts will compete in the all-around competition. This event will also serve as a qualifying round for the team final and the apparatuses finals. 

Sunday November 29:
At 3pm, it will be the team and apparatuses finals. Cuntries that send two gymnasts will be paired together. It will be a two-up-two-count format. Each gymnast also has to compete on at least one event. 

The competition will take place at the Parc des Sports, salle La Garenne (Rue des Olympiades, 2) in Charleroi.

Entrance fee:
One day: 10€
Two days: 15€
Free for children under 12 (must be accompanied by an adult)

lundi 23 novembre 2015

Élite Gym Massilia: 3 medals for Team Belgium in finals!

In Marseille, our young gymnasts once again shone during the event finals! Three medals: two silvers and one bronze! Here is my thoughts about their performances. 

Credit: Photografeuz
I have to admit, I was very excited to see how Nina Derwael (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw) and Axelle Klinckaert (GymMax) would perform in finals. In less than two months, they will be Seniors and this competition in Marseille was a good opportunity to compete against some of the best gymnasts in Europe. 

Axelle qualified for two finals: vault and floor. A fall on balance beam during the Master competition prevented her from a 3rd final that could have been a good one for her. But let's stay positive. Belgium is not really known for its vault skills. Our gymnasts usually present a yurchenko full twist. And it is rare to see a second vault from them.

Axelle also presented a yurchenko full twist, no real surprise here, but wih a superb execution (9.167 E score)! Her second vault, a front handspring piked salto with half turn, was very clean too (9.1 E score). 

With a 14.133 averaged score, Axelle won a silver medal!

1. Laura Jurca (ROU) 14.250
2. Axelle Klinckaert (BEL) 14.133
3. Camille Bahl (FRA) 14.067
4. Marine Boyer (FRA) 13.983
5. Jessica Hutchinson (USA) 13.850
6. Coline Devillard (FRA) 13.783
7. Alison Lepin (FRA) 13.467

Credit: Photografeuz
There were no Belgian gymnasts in the uneven bars final. But I'd like to talk a bit about Nina Derwael's routine that she presented during the Master competition. Nina improved a lot in the past year on bars. This weekend, she showed a 6.6 difficulty score! This is huge, it was the highest score of the competition on this event. To give you an example, it is the same difficulty score as Russia's Viktoria Komova, who recently won gold on bars at the 2015 Worlds! 

We thought that Nina's bars routine was promising. She posted videos on her Instagram account. In Marseille, she introduced a brand new Bhardwaj (pak salto with full turn). Unfortunately, she fell on her Van Leeuwen (toe-on half turn). But even with a fall, she managed to score 14.050! She also presented a beautiful combo, a Ricna (stalder to straddle Tkatchev) connected to a salto pak!

Here are the standings of the uneven bars final:
1. Natalia Kapitonova (RUS) 15.267
2. Enus Mariani (ITA) 14.267
3. Oreane Lechenault (FRA) 13.867
4. Alison Lepin (FRA) 13.733
5. Angelina Melnikova (RUS) 13.633
6. Loan His (FRA) 13.233

No uneven bars final, but a balance beam final for NinaNina is a very elegant gymnast and you can particularly see it on balance beam. She missed one of her connection (free walkover to sheep jump) at the beginning of her routine and had few wobbles but no doubt that she could capitalize on this routine in the future. She also performed a new dismount, a Steingruber!  

1. Laura Jurca (ROU) 13.867
2. Enus Mariani (ITA) 13.733
3. Nina Derwael (BEL) 13.700
4. Brevet Marine (FRA) 13.700
5. Diana Bulimar (ROU) 13.633
6. Claire Martin (FRA) 13.133

Credit: Photografeuz
Last event for our two Juniors: floor exercise. 

I adore Nina on bars and Axelle on beam, but floor is a whole new dimension! I'm always impressed by all the epxressivness our Senior gymnasts put in their routines (especially Lisa VerschuerenLaura Waem and Gaelle Mys), but it also applies to our Juniors. You can tell they work hard to match the choreography. But in addition to that, they also show big skills, especially Axelle.

In this routine, she presented a brand new double layout as her opening tumbling pass. She then performed a tucked full-in (double tuck salto with a full twist in the first salto). Her last two tumbling passes were a double tucked and a double piked. I think she can earn a few more tenths on landings and turns. Very promising for 2016! 

I had a crush for Nina's gymnastics at the Flanders International Team Challenge back in May. Back in te time, I admit it, I knew nothing about her. I had seen videos, of course, but nothing more. But now, I'm a huge fan! On a very dramatic music, she performed a double tucked as her opening tumbling pass, followed by a one and a half twist connected to a full twist. Her tird tumbling pass was a two and a half twist. If she doesn't have Axelle's power on tumbling passes, Nina's real strengths are leaps and turns, which she executes very beautifully. 

1. Diana Bulimar (ROU) 14.233
2. Axelle Klinckaert (BEL) 14.100
3. Marine Brevet (FRA) 14.067
4. Elisa Meneghini (ITA) 13.967
5. Nina Derwael (BEL) 13.733
6. Angelina Melnikova (RUS) 12.567

Axelle and Nina won three medals in event finals, 2 silvers for Axelle and one bronze for Nina

Credit: Photografeuz
I'd like to come back on Julie Meyers and Senna Deriks performances. As Axelle and Nina, they will turn Senior in 2016 and will be in contention for a spot on the National Team, which is, in my opinion, about time! Don't get me wrong: we have an amazing Senior team, but for now, we only have 8 competitive gymnasts and a bit of fresh blood won't hurt. We have the same National team for a while now, except for new Seniors Cindy Vandenhole and Rune Hermans

Senna has been injured for quite some time this year and she's not back at her best level quite yet, but she could be an asset for the team. On a good day, she can score 53-54 points in the all-around. Julie Meyers is still a bit behind, in my opinion, but no doubt that the international assignments she's been given tis year will boost her confidence and help her gain experience. She had a bad day in Marseille, but she has the potential to help the team.  

Nina and Axelle don't need an introduction anymore. They shone at the European Youth Olympic Festival, they shone in Marseille and no doubt they will shine again in Charleroi next weekend. Nina's bars set would be a real asset for Team Belgium which could use a 15 in a team competition, and she could help on beam too. But let's not underestimate her all-around potential. In Massilia, with a fall, she still managed to score 56+! As for today, she's the best all-arounder Belgium ever had and if she manages to keep up at this level next year, she will be a lock for the team. Same goes for Axelle, who scored a bit less than 55 points in the all-around (with a fall). In addition to her all-around strenghts, she could help the team on beam and floor. 

The future will tell what it has in store for our four promising Junior gymnasts, but no doubt: we'll hear more about them!

Full results here
Videos here and here