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


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