vendredi 29 janvier 2016

The Road To Rio continues for our National Teams!

Yesterday, the GymFed invited the press to present the women's gymnasts in contention for a spot in the Olympic team. But that's not all : we now have more infos about the competitions our Men's and Women's teams will take part in as a preparation for the Test Event. On this occasion, GymFed also launched its new campaign to promote the Olympic journey :  GoBelgym.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
It's in its training facilities in Ghent that the Women's national team received the journalists for the press conference. One thing that struck me right away was the good atmosphere between the gymnasts while they were posing for a photo shoot. The good mood continued as Gaelle Mys (OTV Nazareth), Laura Waem (Sportiva Sint-Gillis-Waas) and Julie Croket (GymMax), the "veterans" of the team, presented their teammates : Jelle Beullens (De Gympies Keerbergen), Axelle Klinckaert (GymMax), Senna Deriks (Gymgroep AS), Cindy Vandenhole (Vaste Vuist Lauwe), Julie Meyers (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw), Rune Hermans (Gym Haacht) and Nina Derwael (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw).

Qualified for the Olympic Test Event which will take place in Rio in April, the Belgians are now focusing on their main goal: a team qualifications for the Olympic Games, which would be a first for Belgium. For many, Belgium one of the favorites to win the Test Event, but the competition will be tough: Romania, Germany, France and Brazil are our main rivals, but let's not forget Australia, South Korea and Switzerland. 

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
During the press conference, the calendar of our gymnasts has been revealed (see below). But that's not all: to promote the girls' Olympic journey, GymFed launched a new campaign and a new website: Go Belgym. On this website, you'll be able to find gymnasts' infos, news and results. And you can even participate in your own way, by taking part in the longest forward roll chain!

On the Men's side, Maxime Gentges will take part in several individual international competitions (Baku, Austrian team Open) while the rest of the team will also compete at nationals and international competitions. Belgium will also send gymnasts to Germany for the DTB Pokal Team Challenge in Stuttgart as a final test for the Test Event.

Good news for Lisa Verschueren's fans. She was there in Ghent yesterday. If she is no longer able to train at the elite level, she choose to stay involved in gymnastics. She's now coaching at her club, Sportiva Sint-Gillis-Waas, and will travel to Rio with the team to support them.

Our gymnasts calendar until the Test Event : women's team
* 19 February: selection test
* 5-6 March: International Gymnix (Canada)
* 3 April: friendly match BEL-ROU-GER (Mouscron)
* 16-20 April: Rio Test Event (6 gymnasts + 1 alternate)

Our gymnasts calendar until the Test Event : men's team
* 19-21 February: World Challenge Cup (Baku, Azerbaijan). Maxime Gentges will represent Belgium
* 5-6 March: Provincial Championship (Stekene)
* 5 March: Austrian Team Open (Linz, Austria). Maxime Gentges will compete there
* 18-20 March: DTB Pokal Team Challenge (Stuttgart, Germany). Belgium will send its gymnasts as a last preparation test for the Olympic Test Event
* 16-20 April: Rio Test Event (2 gymnasts)

The first half of the year will be very busy for our national teams! I'll try to keep you updated as best as I can!

jeudi 21 janvier 2016

New Seniors in 2016 part. 2: MAG

Here is the 2nd (and last) part of our series of articles about the new seniors gymnasts in 2016. Today : the men's gymnasts!

There is something to know about the men's gymnasts : if they theoretically become Seniors the year they turn 18, they can choose to remain in the Juniors ranks that year. For example, it was the case for Nile Wilson (Great-Britain). He competed at the 2014 European Juniors Championships and then he represented England at the Commonwealth Games and Great-Britain at Worlds in Nanning later that same year. But let's go back to our gymnasts. Time will tell which category they choose to compete in. 

Iliaz Pyncket (Vaste Vuist Lauwe)
Iliaz already has beautiful results as a Junior. He was a member of the Belgian team that was sent to Sofia for the European Juniors Championships in 2014, where he finished 7th with the team. Individually, he ranked 15th on the horizontal bar. 

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
2nd at last year's Belgian Championships, he then travelled to Tbilisi for the EYOF where he reached two finals. He was 5th on floor exercice and horizontal bar.

Iliaz Pyncket's D-scores (+ videos):
Pommel horse: 4.5
Vault: 4.4

Lukas Fickers (TSV 1970 Rocherath)
Lukas took part in some international friendly competitions against other Juniors gymnasts. He was 7th at last year's Belgian Championships where his best event was parallel bars. I don't have much info about Lukas but I'm sure we'll hear from him in 2016. 

Lukas Fickers' D-scores (from the 2015 Belgian Championships): 
Floor exercise: 4.1
Pommel horse: 3.4
Still rings: 3.7
Vault: 3.6
Parallel bars: 4.8
Horizontal bar: 3.8

mercredi 20 janvier 2016

New Seniors in 2016 part. 1: WAG

I know I repeat myself, but here we go: 2016 and the Olympic Year. And who says new year, says new Seniors gymnasts! And in 2016, these new Seniors will be in contention for a spot in the Olympic team.

Credit: Marjorie Heuls
Let's begin this two-part series by the women. In recent years, Belgian gymnastics has been increasingly present on the European and World stages. Our gymnasts just qualified for the Olympic Test Event for the second time in a row, and they have never been so close to qualify a full team to the Olympic Games. In the past few years, we've seen a generation of highly talented gymnasts, such as Julie Croket, Gaelle Mys, Laura Waem or Lisa Verschueren. Last year, we discovered new Seniors' Rune Hermans and Cindy Vandenhole who made their Worlds debuts in Glasgow. But this year looks even more promising.

Nina Derwael (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw)
What more can I say about Nina? She is, along with Axelle Klinckaert, one of the great ones of Belgian gymnastics. I noticed her for the first time at the European Junior Championships in Sofia in 2014. She was already a very good gymnast, but seemed to remain in the shadow of gymnasts such as Axelle and Rune Hermans. Nina's progress between 2014 and 2015 were astonishing! Last year, she won the Belgian Championships, the Flanders International Team Challenge, several medals at the European Youth Olympic Festival, as well as medals at international competitions such as Massilia. 

Credit: Florence Lestienne
Her best event is without a doubt the uneven bars, where she keeps improving, showing great lines and difficult skills which will matter in her D-score. Recently, she performed a Bhardwaj (pak salto with full turn). She's also working on a Stalder connected to a Tkatchev with half turn, followed by a Ezhova transition. In addition to bars, Nina also shows difficulty on balance beam and floor exercise, even if she doesn't have, let's say, Axelle's difficulty. But she compensates with amazing leaps and very clean execution. On vault, she performs the usual full twisting Yurchenko.

Nina Derwael's D-scores (+ videos):
Vault: 5.00

Axelle Klinckaert (GymMax)
Another great revelation of this Belgian team: Axelle Klinckaert. As I already said, the world noticed her after seeing her amazing floor exercise routine. In 2014, she already reached two event finals at the 2014 European Juniors Championships (beam and floor). There, she showed she was a promising young talent with enormous potential. In 2015, she missed the beginning of the season due to injury, and only competed on bars at the FIT Challenge in May.

Credit: Florence Lestienne
She caught the eyes of fans at the EYOF last summer, winning two gold medals and two silver medals. She continued her medals harvest, winning two silver medals in Marseille, before finishing on a high note at the Top Gym, where she became the first Belgian gymnast to win the all around title. With two individual gold medals and one team medals, Axelle left from Charleroi with 4 medals. Lately, TVO made a reportage about Axelle. In this film, we can see Axelle working on a Rudi on vault (front handspring with one and a half twist). This vault, a 6.2 D-score vault, would dramatically increase Axelle's all-around score. I think she could improve on bars, her weakest event.

Axelle Klinckaert's D-scores (+ videos):
Vault: 5.00

Julie Meyers (TK Sta Paraat - P. H. H. Hasselt vzw)
The first time I saw Julie was at the FIT Challenge, and even if she seemed a bit impressed to be there, for her first big international assignment, you could see all the talent she has. I particularly love Julie on beam, where she always seems to deliver, remaining calm and showing readiness when it counts.

Credit: Florence Lestienne
3rd at last year's Belgian Championships, she was part of the team that competed at the EYOF, where she won silver with the team. Julie then competed in Marseille and Charleroi. Marseille was surely not the best competition she had this year but she managed to put this performance behind her to finish well at the Top Gym, finishing 5th in the all around and winning a team medal. Julie's progress in 2015 was remarkable. Between the Belgian Championships in March and the Top Gym in November, she improved her D-scores on every event but vault.

Julie Meyers' D-scores (+ videos):
Vault: 5.00

Senna Deriks (Gymgroep AS)
Senna catched the eye of the audience at the Belgian Championships, where she won the silver medal, behind Nina Derwael. A foot injury prevented her to compete at the FIT Challenge. She made her competition comeback in Marseille, before travelling to Charleroi for the Top Gym. There, she shone, winning  3 individual medals as well as a team medal.

Credit: Florence Lestienne
Her best event is the uneven bars, where she has a D score of 5.9. Along with Nina Derwael and Laura Waem, Belgium now has great bar workers, earning scores that could matter in the team total and challenge the big nations. Another interesting fact about Senna is that she doesn't perform the usual full twisting Yurchenko on vault, but a front handspring piked somersault with half turn.

Senna Deriks' D-scores (+ videos):
Vault: 5.00

Now that those gymnasts have joined the Seniors ranks, I can't wait to see what they will bring to the team, but one thing is for sure, we will hear about those talents this year!

mardi 19 janvier 2016

2016 Calendar

2016 is here, a year that we all have been waiting for: the Olympic year! It will be the highlight of the year. But until then, our gymnasts will take part to some national and international competitions. Let's have a look at them!


* 19-20 February: World Challenge Cup Baku (Azerbaidjan)
Maxime Gentges (Gym Club Malmédy) will travel there. He will compete on pommel horse, parallel bars and horizontal bar
* 5 March: Austrian Team Open (Autria). Maxime Gentges will represent Belgium
* 5 March: Junior international match Belgium vs. France. This competition will be a selection test for the European Juniors Championships
* 18-20 March: DTB Pokal Team Challenge 2016 Stuttgart (Germany)
* 29 March: 1st selection test (Malmedy)
* 31 March-3 April: World Cup Cottbus (Germany). Dennis Goossens, Maxime Gentges and Siemon Volkaert will represent Belgium
* 6 April: 2nd selection test (Malmedy)
* 8-9 April: International Junior Team Cup Berlin (Germany). This competition will be a selection test for the European Juniors Championships
* 16-24 April: Olympic Test Event Rio (Brazil). Because Belarus withdrew, Belgium will send a full team to the Test Event. The team will have to finish among the 4 first teams in order to qualify a full team for the Olympic Games
* 7-8 May: Belgian Championships
* 25-29 May: European Juniors & Seniors Championships. Juniors will take part in a team, all-around and event finals competitions. Seniors will take part in a team and event finals competitions
* 5-21 August: Olympic Games Rio (Brazil). Belgium will send one gymnast

* 13 February: Woga Classic (United States). Marthe Hoskens will represent Belgium
* 3-6 March: International Gymnix Montreal (Canada)
* 3 April: International Friendly meet BEL-GER-ROU
* 16-24 April: Olympic Test Event Rio (Brazil). Belgium will have to finish among the 4 first teams to qualify a full team for the Olympic Games. In case the gymnasts don't make it as a team, one gymnast will represent Belgium in Rio
* 7-8 May: Belgian Championships
* 14-15 May: Gymnova Cup (Gympies Keerbergen). International competition for Youth and Juniors gymnasts
* 1-5 juin : European Juniors & Seniors Championships. Juniors will take part in a team, all-around and event finals competitions. Seniors will take part in a team and event finals competitions
* 5-21 August: Olympic Games Rio (Brazil)