samedi 31 décembre 2016

My 2016 Highlights!

In a few hours, we will say goodbye to 2016 and welcome a new quad. So it is time for me to have a look back on 2016 and reveal you my best moments' Top 5 of the year! Don't hesitate to share yours with me!

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
1. The Women's team at the Olympics or the first time since 1948
This year has been pretty amazing in terms of results but of course, the highlight was our Women's team placing 3rd at the Test Event and qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio for the first time in 68 years! In Rio, Gaelle Mys, Laura Waem, Nina Derwael, Rune Hermans and Senna Deriks had a nearly flawless qualification round and placed 12th.

2. Dennis Goossens and Nina Derwael in Olympic finals
The Men's team didn't qualify a full team for the Games and all of our hopes lied on Dennis Goossens' shoulders, his secret weapon for amazing performances on the rings. And the young gymnast didn't disappoint as he qualified for the rings final, where he placed 8th, among one of the strongest field in the world! No other Belgian gymnast had ever qualified for an individual final at the Games. On the women's side, first year Senior Nina Derwael qualified for the all-around final after scoring her personal best during qualifications with 56.532, a personal best she almost beat once again in final, before she had to count a fall on balance beam. But still, with a total of 56.299, Nina Derwael placed 19th, the best result ever achieved by an individual gymnast at the Games.

Credit: Belga
3. The Men's team competing at the Test Event for the first time ever
It is no secret that our Men's team keeps improving. After competing in a pre-Olympic World Championships for the first time in 2015 and reaching their best result ever (17th), they benefited from the withdrawal of the Belarus team and got to compete at the Test Event, once again a first. In Rio, they were far from being ridiculous, being at the top of their game and placing 7th. 

Credit: GymFed
4. Gaelle Mys and Julie Croket leaving the sport on a high note
This year, we saw some of the best Belgian gymnasts say goodbye to the competition : Gilles GentgesDonna-Donny Truyens and Thomas Neuteleers. But also Julie Croket and Gaelle Mys, two of the top gymnasts of the WAG team. Julie Croket gave it her all to comeback one more time, after being sidelined with injuries for so long. She was a great contributor to Belgium's qualification for the Olympic Games as a team. She last competed in Rotterdam, before embracing a coaching career in Ghent. Gaelle Mys shone once again in 2016, making the Test Event, European and Olympic team. In Bern, she qualified to the beam and floor finals, two events where she contributed heavily in Rio at both the Test Event and the Olympics. After three Olympics, Gaelle is now focusing on her studies. 

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
5. Juniors successes
The next generation is already ready to shine internationally. Before joining the Seniors ranks, they got to gain experience as Juniors. On the Men's side, we remember the successes of Jonas Delvael and Ruben Marx at the International Team Cup in Berlin in March. Noah Kuavita and Takumi Onoshima then both qualified for the all-around final at the European Championships in May, while the team placed 9th. Belgium then dominated the Wase Gym Cup and our Junior team won a bronze medal at a friendly meet against the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. On the women's side, Rinke Santy and Maellyse Brassart both qualified for the all-around final at the European Championships, where Rinke made the top 8, placing 7th, while Maellyse was 14th. As a team, our gymnasts were 8th. The younger ones also showed great promises for the future at the Massilia Gym Cup and at the Top Gym last November.

And also ... Gaelle Mys' qualification for two individual finals at Euros, Maxime Gentges' first World Cup medal in Baku, Team Belgium's medals at Gymnix, the upgrades we can see on Instagram from both our National teams, etc.

What is your Top 5 of the year? Let us know in the comments!

vendredi 9 décembre 2016

Thomas Neuteleers says goodbye to gymnastics

The 23-years old gymnast announced the end of his career on Instagram two weeks ago. National champion in 2014, he was also part of the National team. Let's have a look back on Thomas's career!

Credit: Sporza
Thomas Neuteleers (Olympia Houthalen) started gymnastics at age 6. He quickly climbed the levels and had a great career among the Junior ranks. He competed at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tampere (Finland) in 2009 where he won a silver medal on parallel bars. Earlier in the same year, he became the Junior Belgian all-around champion. He also won several medals at international meets. 

2010 was a key moment in Thomas's career. As a Junior, he travelled to Birmingham for the European Junior Championships where he had great results: 6th in the all-around, 6th with the team and 5th in the floor exercise final. After Birmingham, Neuteleers represented Belgium at the first edition of the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore where he qualified for three finals (all-around, parallel bars and floor exercise).

Credit: RTBF

The same year, he moved on to the Seniors ranks and made the World Championships team. In Rotterdam, the team placed 28th. Between 2011 and 2014, he regularly made the national team and represent Belgium at Worlds and European Championships. He was in the team that placed 19th at Worlds in Nanning, the best finish for a Men's belgian team at that time (a record that would eventally be beaten the next year in Glasgow). In 2014, he also became National champion. 

In 2015, a shouder injury kept him out from competing at national meets. He was in contention for a spot on the Worlds team in Glasgow and competed at a selection test against teams from the Netherlands and Italy. He then had to undergo surgery on his foot.

In January of this year, the chase of a team ticket for the Olympics continued, after Belarus withdrew from the Test Event. Thomas was obviously in contention. He was part of the selection process, until a tear ligament in his shoulder forced him to withdraw from the competition. Back to training, he announced his retirement in last November, after 6 years among the Seniors and 17 years in the sport.

Credit: GymFed
Thank you Thomas for what you did for the sport and for Team Belgium! We wish you the best of luck for what comes next!

Career highlights:
2015 - NED-BEL-ITA friendly: 2nd (team)
2014 - World Championships (Nanning): 19th (team)
2014 - European Championships (Sofia): 11th (team), 22nd (still rings)
2014 - Belgian Championships: 1st (all-around)
2013 - Gymfinales (Ghent): 2nd (still rings), 1st (horizontal bar), 1st (parallel bars)
2013 - Belgian Championships: 4th (all-around)
2013 - World Championships (Antwerp): 56th (parallel bars), 45th (floor exercise)
2012 - Belgian Championships: 3rd (all-around)
2012 - European Championships (Montpellier): 14th (team)
2011 - World Championships (Tokyo): 84th (all-around)
2011 - European Championships (Berlin): 49th (all-around)
2010 - World Championships (Rotterdam): 28th (team), 99th (all-around)
2010 - Belgian Junior Championships: 1st (all-around)
2010 - European Junior Championships (Birmingham): 6th (team), 6th (all-around), 5th (floor exercise)
2010 - Gymfinales Juniors (Charleroi): 1st (parallel bars), 2nd (horizontal bar)
2010 - Youth Olympic Games (Singapore): 10th (all-around), 5th (parallel bars), 4th (floor exercise)
2009 - Wase Gym Cup: 1st (team), 1st (all-around), 6th (pommel horse), 4th (still rings), 3rd (vault), 5th (parallel bars)
2009 - European Youth Olympic Festival (Tampere): 7th (team), 14th (all-around), 2nd (parallel bars), 6th (horizontal bar)
2009 - Belgian Junior Championships : 1st (all-around)

dimanche 27 novembre 2016

Top Gym 2016: Serber and Cimpian dominate in finals

Célia Serber, this year's revelation, was once again solid this afternoon, as well as Romania's Olivia Cimpian. They won all four gold medals in Charleroi!

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
On vault, Cimpian, bronze medalist in the all-around yesterday, won the final with a Yurchenko full twist and a Tsukahara layout. She placed 1st ahead of Célia Serber and her teammate Ioana Crisan, who only competed on vault due to a back injury. 

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics

Vault standings
1. Olivia Cimpian (ROU) 13.983
2. Célia Serber (FRA) 13.766
3. Ioana Crisan (ROU) 13.633

France is now well known for its work on bars. And the next generation is following in the footsteps of the oldest. Célia Serber won the gold thanks to a difficult routine and a huge full twisting double layout dismount. Olivia Cimpian and Czech Vendula Merkova, placed 2nd and 3rd. Merkova showed great potential this weekend, after a 4th place finish in the all-around yesterday.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Uneven bars standings
1. Célia Serber (FRA) 13.400
2. Olivia Cimpian (ROU) 13.250
3. Vendula Merkova (CZE) 12.800

Célia Serber was on fire this weekend as she adds another gold to her collection, this time on beam, with a side somersault, a backhandspring to layout to two feet and a double twist dismount. She placed ahead Olivia Cimpian once again, who had a much better performance than yesterday when she fell off the balance beam. But today, despite a few wobbles, you could tell she wanted to be on that podium (13.150). In 3rd is another French, Alisson Lapp who scored 12.850 to win the bronze.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Balance beam standings
1. Célia Serber (FRA) 13.450
2. Olivia Cimpian (ROU) 13.150
3. Alisson Lapp (FRA) 12.850

On floor, Olivia Cimpian won her second gold of the day with her packed routine : full twisting double piked, full twisting double tuck and triple twist. She easily won that final. There was a tie for the silver medal : France's Alisson Lapp and Czech Adela Merkova. They both scored 12.850.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Floor exercise standings
1. Olivia Cimpian (ROU) 13.200
2. Alisson Lapp (FRA) 12.850
2. Adela Merkova (CZE) 12.850

This afternoon was also the team final. Two countries were teamed up and the two best scores on each event would matter for the team total. It's France, with Spain, who won the gold, ahead of Romania and Sweden. Czech Republic and the Netherlands placed 3rd.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Team standings
1. Spain/France 102.830
2. Romania/Sweden 101.950
3. Czech Republic/The Netherlands 100.320

Mark the date! In 2017, it will be the 20th edition of the Top Gym and its 25th anniversary! This edition will be amazing!

Top Gym 2016: France's Célia Serber is the new AA champion!

In a very tight finish, the young Célia Serber from France took the gold, ahead of Naomi Visser from the Netherlands and Olivia Cimpian from Romania. Fien Enghels and Cassia Priels placed 8th and 10th respectively.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Célia Serber, born in 2003, might come as a surprise here. But after a fall on balance beam, she appeared to be the most solid gymnast out there. At only 13, she shows great promises for the future, including a full twisting double layout dismount on bars! With a total score of 51.883, she took the gold medal.

In second place is Naomi Visser from the Netherlands. She was in the lead after three rotations and it was very close between her and the top 4 gymnasts. After a good competition, Visser scored 51.699 to take the silver, just less than 0.2 from the gold.

Olivia Cimpian from Romania came in 3rd. In my eyes, she was the favourite to win along with her teammate Ioana Crisan (who had to whithdrew due to an injury after her vault). This competition was hers to lose. And it all came down to balance beam. After a strong start on vault, Olivia had a very nervous beam routine, falling twice and having big wobbles (10.850). Before that, she was in the lead by more than a point. But she was down to 4th before the last rotation. She came back strong on floor to win the bronze medal with a score of 51.499.

Vendula Merkova from Czech Republic also had a pretty good day, finishing in an impressive 4th place. For Belgium, Fien Enghels placed 8th, with a fall on bars while Cassia Priels was 10th.

AA standings
1. Célia Serber (FRA) 51.883
2. Naomi Visser (NED) 51.699
3. Olivia Cimpian (ROM) 51.499
4. Vendula Merkova (CZE) 51.166
5. Alisson Lapp (FRA) 50.616
6. Juliette Berens (NED) 49.900
7. Adela Merkova (CZE) 49.266
8. Fien Enghels (BEL) 47.783
9. Andrea Carmona (ESP) 47.650
10. Cassia Priels (BEL) 47.016
11. Lova Tingvall (SWE) 46.666
12. Marta Sanchez (ESP) 46.583
13. Sigrid Risberg (SWE) 44.249
14. Ioana Crisan (ROM) 13.900

The team and event finals will take place today. The different countries have been teamed up : Romania will compete with Sweden. Spain with France. and the Czech Republic with the Netherlands. There will be no Belgian team but Cassia and Fien will still compete in the event finals.

Videos will be uploaded soon!

vendredi 25 novembre 2016

2016 Top Gym: all you need to know!

2016 is almost over. Before the GymGala in two weeks and a much deserved break, our gymnasts will compete one last time at the International Top Gym!

Credit: Gymnos Charleroi
Last year, the competition took place in a weird atmosphere, after the Paris attacks and the threat on our country. But there was no way the organisers would cancel the event. And this year, the list of participating countries is once again amazing!

We don't have the complete list of gymnasts, but some names are known : Romania's Ioana Crisan and Olivia Cimpian, both bronze medalist at this year European Juniors Championships, will be there, as well as the Netherlands' Sanna Veerman and Naomi Visser. France will be represented by Alisson Lapp and Célia Serber. For Belgium, Chloé LeblicqCassia Priels or Fien Enghels are also expected to compete. But gymnasts from Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic or Canada will also try to in gold this weekend.

* Saturday 26 November, 6pm : all-around final
* Sunday 27 November, 3pm : team and event finals

Competition format
As usual, the competition format is a bit special, as teams from different countries will team up on Sunday in the team final competition. The best gymnasts on each event from Saturday will also compete in the event finals on Sunday, while the best all-around gymnast will be crowned on Saturday.

Salle de La Garenne, Parc des Sports rue des Olympiades 2, 6000 Charleroi

Entrance fee
10 €  for one day (Saturday or Sunday)
15 €  for both days
Free for kids under 12 (with an adult)

You can't be there this weekend? No worries! There will be a livestream here !

I'll be there too on both days and I'll keep you updated with scores and pictures on both the Twitter and Facebook pages.

lundi 7 novembre 2016

History maker Gaelle Mys retires from elite gymnastics

A few weeks after Julie Croket, another Belgian gymnast says goodbye to gymnastics : 3 time Olympian Gaelle Mys! 

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
Gaelle has been a lock for the Belgian team since her Seniors debut, in 2007. But before that, she was already successful as a Junior. After a first participation at the 2004 Euros, she competed at the 2005 FOJE where she qualified for the all-around final as well as the floor and beam finals. In 2006, she won a bronze medal on floor at the European Championships in Volos.

She turned Senior in 2007 and competed at the European Championships and the World Championships. Her good results at Euros (16th AA) and Worlds (68th AA), and her performance in World Cups (one in 2007, three in 2008) will allow her to represent Belgium at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where she placed 24th in the all-around final!

Between 2009 and 2012, Gaelle qualified for no less than 6 finals at World Cups and Challenger Cups and won a bronze medal on beam (Doha 2011). The strong performances of the Belgian team at the 2010 (15th) and 2011 Worlds (16th) allow Yves Kieffer's gymnasts to qualify for the Test Event.

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
In London, the team fell short on qualifying a full team for the Games, placing 5th, just one point from the last qualifying spot. First an alternate, Gaelle would eventually become the sole Belgian female gymnast at the 2012 Olympic Games after Julie Croket got injured a few weeks prior to the Games. There, she placed 31st.

After missing a team qualification for the Games, Gaelle was not finished with gymnastics just yet. She performed at the 2013 World Championships in Anwterp where she qualified for the all-around final (18th). She contributed to the team's 7th place finish at the 2014 European Championships and to the 11th place at Worlds in Nanning, the best result ever achieved by a Belgian team before!

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
In 2015, Gaelle travelled to Baku for the first ever European Games, where she placed 6th in the all-around and 10th with the team. She was once again a lock for the team that travelled to Glasgow for the World Championships where the girls brilliantly qualified for the Test Event.

In last April, she was of course part of the team that earned a bronze medal at the Test Event and qualified for the Olympic Games as a team, a first for Belgium since 1948! 2016 seemed to be Gaelle's year as she then qualified for two individual finals at the European Championships, on floor and balance beam, her two best events. 

Gaelle made the trip to Rio, her 3rd (!) Olympic Games, where the team placed 12th and where Gaelle got to show one last time why she was such an asset to this team.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
Her confidence and solid routines, as well as her amazing epressivness on floor exercise will be among the things I'll miss the most about Gaelle. I'm so used to see her on this team! She made history for our country multiple times and, in addition to an extraordinary international career, Gaelle also won multiple medals on home soil and has been National champion. 

We will miss you Gaelle! Thank you for everything you've done for this sport. You made us proud and no matter what, you are part of Belgian gymnastics history!

Career highlights:
2016 - Olympic Games (Rio): 12th (team)
2016 - European Championships (Bern): 9th (team), 6th (balance beam), 7th (floor exercise)
2016 - Olympic Test Event (Rio): 3rd (team)

2015 - World Championships (Glasgow): 11th (team)
2015 - European Games (Baku) : 10th (team), 6th (all-around)
2015 - Belgian Championships: 2nd (all-around)
2015 - FIT Challenge (Ghent): 2nd (team)
2014 - World Championships (Nanning): 11th (team), 50th (all-around)
2014 - Belgian Championships: 3rd (all-around)
2014 - European Championships (Sofia): 7th (team), 11th (all-around)
2013 - Belgian Championships: 1st (all-around)
2013 - World Championships (Antwerp): 18th (all-around)
2013 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal): 10th (all-around), 1st (balance beam)
2012 - World Challenger Cup (Ghent): 4th (balance beam)
2012 - Belgian Championships: 2nd (all-around)
2012 - European Championships (Brussels): 6th (team)
2012 - Olympic Games (London): 31st (all-around), 45th (uneven bars), 30th (balance beam), 51st (floor exercise)
2012 - Test Event (London): 5th (team), 37th (all-around)
2011 - World Challenger Cup (Doha): 3rd (balance beam), 5th (floor exercise), 7th (uneven bars)
2011 - World Championships (Tokyo): 16th (team), 75th (all-around)
2011 - World Challenger Cup (Ghent): 7th (floor exercise)
2010 - World Championships (Rotterdam): 15th (team)
2009 - World Cup (Stuttgart): 7th (floor exercise)
2009 - Gymfinales (Ghent): 2nd (balance beam), 1st (floor exercise)
2009 - Belgian Championships: 2nd (all-around)
2008 - Olympic Games (Beijing): 24th (all-around), 54th (uneven bars), 30th (balance beam), 47th (floor exercise)
2008 - World Cup (Barcelona): 4th (uneven bars), 7th (balance beam), 6th (floor exercise)
2008 - European Championships (Clermont-Ferrand): 17th (team)
2008 - World Cup (Doha): 7th (balance beam), 7th (floor exercise)
2007 - World Championships (Stuttgart): 68th (all-around)
2007 - World Cup (Ghent): 6th (floor exercise)
2007 - European Championships (Amsterdam): 16th (all-around)
2007 - WOGA Classic (United States): 17th (all-around), 2nd (floor exercise)
2006 - European Junior Championships (Volos): 9th (team), 6th (all-around), 7th (vault), 6th (balance beam), 3rd (floor exercise)

2004 - European Junior Championships (Amsterdam): 14th (team)

dimanche 6 novembre 2016

International successes for Team Belgium!

These past few weeks have been busy so far for our gymnasts and it's not over yet! Our Juniors WAG team will compete in Marseille next weekend and then in Charleroi at the Top Gym. But both our MAG and WAG teams have been successful so far. Let's catch up!

Credit: Federació Catalana de Gimnàstica

2016 Wase Gym Cup

The 13th edition of the Wase Gym Cup took place on the last weekend of October and gathered some of Belgium's best gymnasts and athletes from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Senior's Jonas Baert has been pretty successful as he won 6 gold medals (AA, team, floor, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar). In the all-around, he took the gold ahead of European Championships finalist Noah Kuavita and Yureck Van Eetveld.

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
In the Youth category, Bram De Ridder won the all-around ahead of Glen Cuyle and Jordi Hagenaar from the Netherlands. De Ridder, Cuyle, Abel Stoop and Nicola Cuyle won the team gold.

On the Women's side, Naomi Visser from the Netherlands won gold in the all-around ahead of her teammates Mandy Magoub and Mirte De Reiger. Magoub and De Reiger also won gold with their team, while Visser took the bronze. The GymFed team (De Neef, Vanneste, Bertrandt and Louon) took home the silver. Visser then took two more golds on bars and floor, De Reiger winning vault and Wendy De Jong (NED) taking gold on beam. De Neef won silver on bars, Vanneste won silver on floor.

Credit: GymFed
The Netherlands' Yu Verburg won the all-around title in the Youth category ahead of Merel Pouw (NED) and Belgium's Muka Amerlinck. The team from Wevelgem won the team gold ahead Amsterdam and Heerenveen.

Full results here
Pictures here and here

Switzerland-Italy-Belgium-The Netherlands friendly meet

On Friday November 4th, our Juniors team travelled to Switzerland for a friendly meet against teams from Switzerland, Italy and The Netherlands. This meet is a step towards the 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival (Hungary, July 2017). The Belgian team, composed of Jonas Delvael, Liam De Smet, Mathis Bouchet and Noah Kuavita took home the bronze. The home team, Switzerland, won the gold, ahead of Italy and our boys. Individually, Italy's Nicolo Mozzato won the all-around ahead of his teammates Giannini Lay and Lorenzo Casali. Jonas Delvael and Noah Kuavita placed 6th and 7th respectively. Mattis ranked 11th (5 apparatuses) and Liam was 19th (3 events).

Credit: GymFed

Memorial Joaquim Blume

On Saturday, Barcelona hosted the 38th edition of the Memorial Joaquim Blume. Nina Derwael and Jimmy Verbaeys made the trip to Spain to represent our country. The meet has been pretty successful for Nina Derwael who had a clean meet to win the gold medal with a total of 56.150! She placed 1st ahead of France's Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos and Russia's Seda Tutkhalian.

Credit: Federació Catalana de Gimnàstica
Jimmy Verbaeys, on the other hand, had a pretty rough meet, breaking one of his grips during a routine. He scored a total of 75.300 for a 12th place finish.


This weekend, Combs-La-Ville was also hosting its traditional international tournament. Luna Cassart, Sophia Kola and Chloé Storey represented Belgium in the Juniors category. In a competition clearly dominated by Italy (113.100), our girls placed 8th as a team with a total score of 95.900. Individually, Sophia Kola got the best result among the Belgians, with a 17th place finish and a total score of 49.100. Luna Cassart placed 33rd and Chloé Storey was 38th.

Results here

The next big competition for our gymnasts will be the Elite Gym Massilia (November 11-13). Margaux Daveloose, Julie Vandamme, Manon Muller and Rinke Santy will represent the GymFed. Cato Fleurackers, Chloé Storey, Sophia Kola and Luna Cassart will represent the FfG and Lisa Vaelen, Fien Vandeberg and Margo Van Linden will be there for their club, De Gympies Keerbergen.

dimanche 9 octobre 2016

Julie Croket is ready for the next chapter of her life!

On Sunday October 9, European and World team member Julie Croket announced her retirement from elite gymnastics. But she's not leaving the sport quite just yet. Julie will now be coaching, she'll help train Belgium's next stars!

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
Julie Croket has been one of the key players in the rise of the Belgian team in the past 8 years, when she turned Juniors, in 2008. She quickly made a name for herself and was seen as Belgium's next big name. As a Junior, she was sent to the Juniors European Championhips and earned international assignments, such as the Top Gym or the EYOF. At that time, there were no doubts Julie would have a bright future ahead of her as a Senior.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten

She turned Seniors in 2010. And she was then a lock on the National team. She competed in 4 World Championships and 3 European Championships, where she regularly made finals, individually or with the team. She was also part of the team that was sent to London for the 2012 Test Event, where Belgium fell short on earning a team ticket to the Games. Julie was then considered a favourite to earn Belgium's individual ticket. And she was indeed chosen before an ACL tear prevented her from travelling to London, just a few weeks before the start of the Games. It was such a hard time for her. She could have just quit back then. But she didn't.

What amazes me most about Julie Croket are her fire and determination, but also the love she has for the sport. So she continued, fighting hard to come back at her best level. She made the World team once again in 2014, where Belgium achieved its best ranking ever, an 11th place. She continued her quest of an Olympic berth in 2015, when she qualified for the World Championships in Glasgow, just a few weeks after spraining her ankle at a friendly meet in Mouscron. 

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
The girls brilliantly qualified for the Test Event in Rio, where Julie helped the team win the bronze medal and an Olympic ticket, a first for Belgium since 1948! They trained so hard for this moment, and the qualification had a taste of redemption for Julie, after many years battling injuries. She put all her heart and effort in each of her routines, where her smile is always such a pleasure to witness.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten

Her last competition was the Dutch Open, back in June, where she competed on bars and beam. She was then named one of the alternates for the Olmpic Games in Rio. After a very successful career as a gymnast, it is now time to move on for Julie! But she won't leave the sport quite just yet. She will now embrace a coaching career and will help train the next generation of Belgian gymnasts!

Julie Croket was one of the best gymnasts Belgium ever had and she will truly be missed, not only by her teammates and fans, but also by a lot of international gymnasts around the world. Julie, thank you for everything you've done for the sport and for Belgium. You made us really really proud! Good luck for what comes next!

Julie Croket's career highlights
2016 - Olympic Test Event (Rio): 3rd (team)
2015 - World Championships (Glasgow): 11th (team)
2014 - World Championships (Nanning): 11th (team)
2013 - World Challenger Cup (Anadia): 7th (balance beam), 5th (floor exercise)
2012 - Belgian Championships: 1st (all-around)
2012 - European Championships (Brussels): 6th (team), 8th (floor exercise)
2012 - Test Event Olympic Games (London): 5th (team), 5th (all-around)
2011 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal): 1st (all-around), 1st (vault), 3rd (uneven bars), 2nd (balance beam), 1st (floor exercise)
2011 - European Championships (Berlin): 12th (all-around), 4th (balance beam), 5th (floor exercise)
2011 - World Championships (Tokyo): 16th (team)
2010 - European Championships (Birmingham): 13th (team), 9th (all-around)
2010 - Belgian Championships: 1st (all-around)
2010 - World Championships (Rotterdam): 15th (team), 43rd (all-around)
2010 - World Cup (Ghent): 2nd (floor exercise)
2009 - Belgian Junior Championships: 5th (two events)
2009 - European Youth Olympic Festival (Tampere): 10th (team), 9th (all-around)
2009 - Top Gym (Charleroi): 2nd (all-around), 1st (saut)
2008 - European Junior Championships (Clermont-Ferrand): 8th (team), 8th (vault)
2008 - Belgian Junior Championships: 2nd (all-around)

2008 - Gymfinales (Ghent): 1st (vault)

samedi 20 août 2016

Tokyo 2020: Dream and train

"To be an olympic athlete", that's the dream of a lot, if not of all athletes. Of course witnessing great performances and experiences strengthens the dream. 

Credit: Jade Vansteenkiste, Fien Enghels, Julie Vandamme
A group of young gymnasts started their "Road to Tokyo", with the beautiful images of the seniors team in mind. The road will be long and tough but the last years have shown us the importance of having a team! It's great to see how the young gymnasts incorporate this message. 

Teamspirit is promoted from the very beginning of their gymnastics training. The gymnasts of the different regional training centers train together on different occasions during the weekends and school-holidays. They become a close group of gymnasts and coaches, working together on the next Olympic campaign. 

Generation 2024 training together in Bruges.
Credit: Joke Mertens.
The road is long and different gymnasts will have to leave their dream behind, other might still receive the opportunity to build their road. As long as all of this happens with a sense of teamspirit and in accordance to the dream, this can only be a positive experience. Axelle Klinckaert said that 4 years fly fast when you train hard but some days, those 4 year might appear like ages. We all know it but bear in mind that your parents, (ex)-coaches, teammates and fans will be there on those days to support you, to carry you through the rough days. Never give up and keep dreaming, one day you and/or your friends might be olympic athletes! 

mercredi 17 août 2016

2016 Olympic Games: 8th place for Dennis in the rings final!

On the second day of event finals, our very own Dennis Goossens entered the arena for the rings final, one of the most difficult in the gymnastics world.

Credit: Belga Sports
Dennis Goossens's Olympic Games were already a success. His main goal was to reach the rings final, and he did it on the very first day of competition. Everything that would come out of this final would be a bonus.

Dennis was the 3rd gymnast to go, right after the heavy favorite, Eleftherios Petrounias, who went on to win the gold medal with a huge 16.000. With no major mistake and just a step on the landing, the Belgian gymnast earned a good 14.933, a bit lower than what he got in qualifications, and unfortunately not enough to be in a medal position.

Credit: Belga Sports
Dennis placed 8th, in a great final, highlighted by the joy of the Brazilian crowd when Arthur Zanetti, the defending Olympic Champion, placed 2nd and won the silver medal (15.766). The bronze went to Russia's Denis Ablyazin (15.700).

Rings Final standings
1. Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) 16.000
2. Arthur Zanetti (BRA) 15.766
3. Denis Ablyazin (RUS) 15.700
4. Liu Yang (CHN) 15.600
5. Igor Radivilov (UKR) 15.466
6. You Hao (CHN) 15.400
7. Danny Rodrigues Pinheiro (FRA) 15.233
8. Dennis Goossens (BEL) 14.933

After Belgium missed a team ticket at the Test Event, Dennis earned his spot for the Games and he did amazingly well in Rio, becoming the first Belgian gymnast ever to qualify for an event final at the Olympic Games. Dennis, proficiat! 

Full results here
Videos here

vendredi 12 août 2016

2016 Olympic Games: Nina Derwael 19th in the all-around final !

Yesterday was yet another magical moment for our gymnasts, and especially for Nina Derwael, as she entered the Olympic Arena to compete in the all-around final, at age 16. Let's have a look at her historical performance!

Credit: Belga
Nina started on floor, and what a start ... With 13.733, Nina delivered once again a solid performance, improving her qualification score by 0.2 points. She impressed the audience with her expressiveness, including Olympic silver medalist, USA's Samantha Peszek, who had nothing but compliments for her performance.

Credit: Twitter
Nina then went to vault, where she performed a clean full twisting Yurchenko to earn a 13.966.

After that, our Belgian gymnast moved on to bars, her best event. Not only did Nina hit her routine, she received the second highest score of the day, with 15.300. This routine reminded me of how unfair it was for her not to be in the bars final. This routine deserves to be seen, it is Olympics final worthy. In qualifications, Nina didn't mess up, she was at the top of her game. But she was the unfortunate victim of the "first subdivision cursed" : the gymnasts performing in that subdivision are generally scored lower than the ones competing in the latter subdivisions. And to be honest, we saw some ridiculous scores at the end of that qualification day ... Another victim of that "curse" was World uneven bar champion (!) Fan Yilin of China. Yesterday, Nina was absolutely gorgeous. Just see by yourself here.

Credit: FfG
Her last event was the balance beam. An event always difficult to perform on, no matter how well you are prepared. Nina was ready, and she had to face one more major obstacle: having to perform after Simone Biles's performance on floor, a performance that sealed her Olympic gold medal. At this point, the arena was going wild. The crowd was chanting "USA", Biles and Aly Raisman waving to them. But Nina was on the other side of the arena, performing on that balance beam. And unfortunately, she fell. I'm not saying it's Biles or Raisman, or the crowd's fault. I'm just saying it must have been so hard for Nina to compete under such circumstances. Yes, she fell on her acrobatic series, but Nina's performance last night was simply amazing. Amazing is not even enough strong to describe what she achieved.

Credit: Belga
At 16 years old, and a total score of 56.299, Nina Derwael ranked 19th, the best ranking ever achieved by a Belgian gymnast in the all-around final at the Olympic Games. I have the feeling I've said that a lot in the past year, but once again, history has been made by a Belgian gymnast. Nina, we are so proud of you! Proficiat, girl.

Full results here
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