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!


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