As of July 26, Tbilisi (Georgia) will host the European Youth Olympic Festival. This competition which includes several sports is a very good opportunity for young athletes aged from 14 to 18 years to gain experience. As usual, Belgium is sending a delegation, delegation which includes 6 gymnasts.
Who are our gymnasts?
On the women's side, the team is composed of Nina Derwael (TK Sta Paraat - PHH Hasselt vzw) , Axelle Klinckaert (GymMAX vzw) and Julie Meyers (TK Sta Paraat - PHH Hasselt vzw). These three athletes have, in my opinion, chances of medals, especially Nina Derwael, capable of scoring a 56 points total in the all-around competition (she scored 56,050 at the FIT Challenge). Her best apparatus is uneven bars, where Nina could also be in contention for a medal on this event.
Axelle Klinckaert also has experience and good results on the international stage: she reached three finals at the 2014 European Junior Championships in Sofia (all-around, balance beam and floor exercise). Axelle did not participate in the Belgian Championship this year due to an injury and has only competed on uneven bars at FIT Challenge.
Finally, Julie Meyers, third at this year's Belgian Championships, also competed at the FIT Challenge. This Olympic Festival will be the first major international competition for Julie.
On the men's side, Takumi Onoshima (Athanor Gym Club), Iliaz Pyncket (Vaste Vuist Lauwe) and Noah Kuavita (Silok Deurne) will represent Belgium. Each of these gymnasts has its individual qualities but also team ones, since they have already competed together.
Iliaz Pyncket finished second at this year's Belgian championships. He also has experience on the international stage. His best event is horizontal bar, but he is also a very good all-arounder.
Noah Kuavita, 3rd at the Belgian Championship this year, won the all-around competition at an international match against the Juniors teams from the Netherlands and Sweden. He wants to give the best of himself and will try to qualify for one or more finals.
At 15, Takumi Onoshima is the youngest of our male representatives, and perhaps the less experienced, but this festival is a great opportunity for Takumi to show what he can do and gain experience for the rest of his career.
In addition to those six gymnasts, 4 reserves have been named and will step in in case one of the team members gets injured.
Those reserves are:
Senna Deriks (Gymgroep AS)
Maellyse Brassart (Gym Phenix Auderghem)
Frederic De Camps (Dynamic Club Braine)
Lukas Fickers (TSV 1970 Rocherath)
What is the competition format?
The team competition will take place on a 3-3-2 format: three gymnasts per team, three gymnasts compete on the apparatus, the best two scores count towards the team total.
The top 24 qualifies for the all-around final, while the top 8 on each event qualifies for the apparatus finals. The two-per-country rule is apply, meaning only two gymnasts from the same country can qualify for a final.
When will the competition start for our gymnasts?
Our delegation took off this morning for Georgia. Our boys will begin their competition on July 28 while our girls will begin on July 29.