Here we go! Our national teams are in Rio for the long awaited Olympic Test Event! On Saturday, the boys will try to qualify a full team for the Olympic Games, for the first time in their history. What can we expect from them? Let's find out!
First of all, a little flashback to the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. There, the Men's team failed to qualify for the Test Event, placing 17th, a spot away from that qualifying spot. As I said at that time, they made history for Belgium, reaching the best ranking a Belgian men's team ever had. The boys quickly had to move on and focus on the Test Event as individuals, as two gymnasts would be sent to represent Belgium. But in February, Belarus withdrew from the Test Event and Belgium, the first reserve, eventually qualified a full team!
The preparation had to change, switching from an individual process to a team one. After successfull tests all over Europe, Jimmy Verbaeys, Maxime Gentges, Daan Kenis, Bram Louwije, Siemon Volkaert, Dennis Goossens and Florian Landuyt (alternate) made the team. Our gymnasts then travelled to Santos for a training camp before heading to Rio. Their podium training will take place today.
Competition will be fierce for Team Belgium as teams from Germany, Canada, Romania, Spain, France, Ukraine and the Netherlands will compete in order to earn a team ticket for the Games. We don't know the line up yet, but I think Gentges, Verbaeys, Kenis and Louwije will compete on all six events. Dennis Goossens is a rings specialist while Siemon Volkaert's best apparatuses are the floor, the vault and the pommel horse. Jimmy, Maxime, Bram and Daan can all score between 82 and 86 in the all around. Pommel hose shouldn't be an issue as Maxime Gentges can really score high there and has been consistent lately. Jimmy's best event is parallel bars where he can score above 15. I admit I don't know much about Daan but he can have good scores on vault and floor, an event on which he won a bronze medal as a Junior in 2012. I haven't seen much about Bram but I heard he upgraded on several apparatuses and can be really competitive there. Dennis recently won a bronze medal in a World Challenge Cup event with a score of 15+ on rings. And Siemon can also score around 14.700 on floor, and more than 14 on vault and on pommel horse.
I think a big advantage for Belgium is that they have nothing to lose. Belgium is seen as an outsider, and that can be helpful. They don't have the same kind of pressure the women's team has on its shoulder, for example. Of course, they want to qualify a full team and you never know what could happen in a competition such as the Test Event. If you have a look at the qualifying results from Glasgow, Belgium was 17th, just a bit less than 6 points away from the top 12. And the gymnasts had mistakes, which means they could have placed higher. I want to believe they will qualify. But if they don't, they would have already made history for their country once again. And no matter what, Belgium will be at the Olympic Games : as a team that will compete at the Test Event, they automatically earn an individual spot for the Games.
Belgium will compete in the 3rd subdivision (out of three), with teams from Ukraine and the Netherlands. They will start the competition on vault.
Here is their programme:
* Thursday 14 April : podium training (6:30pm Brazil time, 11:30pm Belgium time)
* Saturday 16 April : team competition (6:30pm Brazil time, 11:30pm Belgium time)
As for now, we don't have infos on a livestream. Rumor has it that there will be none ... But let's hope rumor is wrong! I'll keep you posted.