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
Videos in this article here

lundi 8 août 2016

2016 Olympic Games: Team BelGYM in 12th, all-around final for Nina!

Our Team BelGYM competed on Saturday in the qualification round, hoping to increase its World rankings. In Rio, our gymnasts were simply amazing and showed why they are a team on the rise.

They started their competition on bars, their best event. Rune Hermans was up first and was the anchor of the team : her score would pave the way for the three other members of the team on that event. With a very soldi routine, she scored 13.775. Senna Deriks started very well, showing great control on her stalders, but then had to take an extra swing on the high bar, a costly deduction (13.533). Next up was Nina Derwael, known for her amazing bars work but who had consistency issues in the past few months. But not on Saturday. She was flawless. Nina presented a difficult routine with a stalder full turn, Shaposhnikova to a Bhardwaj, a Shaposhnikova half turn, a jeager release, a Tkatchev connected to a pak salto and a full in dismount for 15.133, the highest score of the day for Team Belgium. Last to go was Laura Waem, who is also a great bars worker. She got 14.133 for her weiler half turn, stalder to Shaposhnikova, a Tkatchev release, a jaeger connected to a pak salto and a full in dismount.

Nina Derwael was the first one to go on beam. She received the great score of 13.966 for a routine composed of two back handsprings connected to a layout step out, a side somersault, a free walkover and a full twisting Gainer dismount. Same score for Laura Waem who brilliantly connected a free cartwheel to a back tuck and a great double pike dismount. Rune Hermans was solid once again, scoring 13.700, before team veteran's Gaelle Mys showed a packed routine with a switch leap ring, a sheep jump, an Onodi, a Sissone to a free walkover, a backhandspring layout step out and a double pike dismount (13.833).

Belgium is now well-known for its artistry and the originality the team puts in its choreography. The anticipated floor rotation didn't disappoint are the girls showed steady performances, good tumbling passes and great leaps amplitude.

On the top of her game, Nina Derwael once again got a great score of 13.533 despite a deduction for going out of bounds on her last pass. From what I could see on Twitter, Laura Waem made quite an impression to a lot of people, her great smile and choreography on a Marilyn-themed music. She coupled it with a double twists and a double tuck, and with difficult turns (13.366). European floor finalist Gaelle Mys was a little underscored in my opinion, but she delivered once again a good routine featuring a front double twist to front tuck, a double pike and a double tuck (13.566). But the highlight of the day on floor came from Rune Hermans. With her difficult full in double back tuck, her two and a half twist to front tuck and her one and a half twist to full twist, she showed great tumbling passes. But most of all, she showed a great presence and her routine pleased the crowd as she smiled her way through it, scoring 13.900 for the best routine I've ever seen from her.

As they were heading to vault, their last event, the Belgian team already had a successful Olympic competition, showing they belonged there. The only mistake there came from Rune Hermans, who came a bit too high on her Yurchenko and didn't had enough push coming into the twist. She landed a bit short on her Yurchenko one and a half twist, a new vault for her, and had to put her hand down (13.133). Nina, Senna and Gaelle all performed clean Yurchenkos full twist, Gaelle getting the highest score (14.133).

With a total of 167.868, Belgium had a great performance, with only one fall that didn't count in the team total. Individually, Nina Derwael was in contention for a spot in the uneven bars final and the all-around final, along with Rune Hermans. All they had to do was wait. They knew reaching the top 8 would be tough, as big countries such as the United States, Russia, Great Britain and Germany still had to compete. But they knew they gave it their all.

In the end, they ended up in 12th place as a team. Nina placed 12th on bars, the highest ranking ever achieved by a Belgian on an individual event. She'll be the 3rd reserve going into the final. She also ranked 21st in the all-around (19th once the two per country rule applied) with a personal best score of 56.532. 

Unfortunately, there will be no all-around final for Rune, who ranked 34th. After vault, Rune was clearly upset by her fall. But Rune, you were amazing out there. First being an alternate, you had the difficult task to step in when Axelle Klinckaert got injured. Then you ended up doing all four events. And you scored 54.508. At the Olympics. That's maybe not the result you were hoping for but let me tell you that you have every reason to be proud of what you achieved in Rio. The whole team can be proud. You showed as a team, what you were capable of, with no complex whatsoever.

For its first competition as a team on the Olympic stage in 68 years, Belgium clearly showed it's a country on the rise, with a lot of talents. This is just the beginning.

Full results here
Videos here

dimanche 7 août 2016

2016 Olympic Games: historical rings final for Dennis Goossens!

Here we go! The Olympic Games officially started on Friday, but no time to celebrate for our gymnast, as Dennis Goossens was in the first subdivision on Saturday morning. Only one goal : to qualify for the final.

The young gymnast from TK Kerels Waasmunster gym club  only competed on rings, his best event, and the most difficult part for him was to wait. He had to wait for the first four rotations to be over before mounting the rings, and then he had to wait for two complete subdivisions to end. Only then would he know if he had made it to the final. 

It's not the kind of things made to reassure you. But Dennis was at the top of his game yesterday. The objective was to score close to his main rivals, World and European Champion Eleftherios Petrounias (Greece) and Olympic Champion Arthur Zanetti (Brazil), both in the same subdivision as Dennis. And he did so amazingly well, scoring 15.366 and placing in a provisionary 3rd place, ahead of one of his main rivals, Yuri van Gelder, from The Netherlands.

In the next subdivision, his biggest threat was Samir Ait Said. The French man actually outscored Dennis (15.533). Rings are also Ait Said's best event and he has said many times before they were his main goal. But in the next rotation, the vault, Samir suffered the worst injury I've ever seen : a double tibia-fibula fracture after a bad landing on the vault. This injury virtually put Dennis in 3rd after two subdivisions, but I personnally choose not to rank him in that position, as I thought Samir fought for that spot, and I didn't want to take it away from him so early. It is obvious though that he won't be able to enter the final.

The last subdivision was probably the most stressful, as Igor Radivilov and Oleg Verniaiev (Ukraine), Yang Liu and Hao You (China), and Russia's Denis Ablyazin were strong contenders. In the end, only three of them managed to place ahead of Dennis, sending him to the rings final.

Rings qualifiers
1. Yang Liu (CHN) 15.900
2. Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE) 15.833
3. Hao You (CHN) 15.800
4. Denis Ablyazin (RUS) 15.633
5. Arthur Zanetti (BRA) 15.533
6. Samir Ait Said (FRA) 15.533 ***
7. Dennis Goossens (BEL) 15.366
8. Yuri van Gelder (NED) 15.333
9. Igor Radivilov (UKR) 15.308 (as the first reserve, Radivilov will most likely replace Samir Ait Said in the final)

This qualification is history making once again, a fate Belgian gymnastics seems to have accomplished quite a few times in the past few years. Never before had a Belgian gymnast qualified for an event final at the Olympic Games! 

The job is done for Dennis. the final won't take place before next Monday. He can now relax and enjoy the page of history he just wrote for his country. Proficiat Dennis!

Full results here

jeudi 4 août 2016

The 2016 Olympic Games preview part. 2 : Team BelGYM wants to shine in Rio

After the preview about Dennis Goossens yesterday, it is now time to have a look at our Women's team and what the girls can achieve in Rio!

Credit: Rune Hermans
Yves Kieffer has told this many times : Belgium is not in Rio to just "be there". The team wants to prove its qualificiation wasn't a fluke and that they are now a force to be reckoned with. The injury of Axelle Klinckaert, a few weeks prior to the Games, was a blow for the Belgian team, but the country can count on its great other gymnasts, and Rune Hermans, usually not in an alternate position, stepped in. Her back pain seems to be gone, and she's ready to take her responsabilities and prove what she can do.

The team, composed of Nina Derwael, Gaelle Mys, Senna Deriks, Laura Waem and Rune Hermans, will start the competition on the uneven bars, in the very first subdivision (out of five) on Sunday. They will compete alongside the team from China and individual gymnasts such as gymnastics's legend Oksana Chusovitina, Australia's Larrissa Miller and 2008 vault Olympic champion Hong Un-Jong. Starting in the first subdivision, on their best event might be a disadvantage, as the first gymnasts to compete usually score lower than the ones in the later subdivisions. Nevertheless, our young team will definitely show all their great skills and try to score as high as possible.

Credit: Nina Derwael
Reaching the top 8 as a team will be really hard for Belgium and it will take a flawless performance from them to get close. Our gymnasts have their podium training this Thursday and the coaches will have to determine the line up for the team qualifications. With 5 all-arounders, close to each others in terms of scoring potential, Yves Kieffer and Marjorie Heuls will have to find the perfect combination of strenghts, skills and execution to present the best possible team.

Here is my line up prediction:
Vault : Derwael, Deriks, Mys, Hermans
Uneven bars: Hermans, Deriks, Waem, Derwael
Balance beam: Hermans, Derwael, Waem, Mys
Floor exercise: Waem, Derwael, Hermans, Mys

According to SporzaNina Derwael and Rune Hermans will be the two gymnasts trying to qualify for the all-around final. It is probable that Laura won't do vault and that Gaelle won't do bars, as those are their weakest event. Senna should cover those spots. But time (and start lists) will tell.

Belgium's best chance of a final will be in the all-around, where the country can hope to qualify two of its representatives, Nina and Rune. A hit performance on the uneven bars from Nina Derwael could potentially get her in the final too, as her bars set has a degree of difficulty of 6.6 and she is really clean on that event.

Credit: GymFed
Team Belgium's schedule (Belgian time):
* Sunday 07/08 - Qualifications
Subdivision 1: 14:45-16:15 (Belgium will start on uneven bars)
Subdivision 2: 16:30-18:00
Subdivision 3: 19:30-21:00
Subdivision 4: 22:30-00:00
Subdivision 5: 01:30-03:00 (during the night on Monday)

* Tuesday 09/08 - Team final: 21:00-22:55
* Thursday 11/08 - All-around final: 21:00-22:55
* Sunday 14/08 - Uneven Bars final: 19:00-22:00

As said yesterday, Belgium TV should broadcast the qualifications. RTBF (French) and Sporza (Dutch) have the rights for Belgium. If the qualifications are not shown on TV, I've been told it would be on the RTBF website. I'll make sure to keep you updated on a link. I will of course follow the competition and give you updates all day long on how our Team performed and will give you scores and rankings updates through Facebook and Twitter ! Stay tuned and good luck ladies!

Don't want to watch gymnastics alone? No problem! During the Olympic Games, Ostende welcomes the Rio House. And gymnastics will be shown on Sunday! More infos here

De Gympies Keerbergen, Gym Haacht and Gymgroep AS gym clubs are also hosting an event. More infos on the pic below

Full schedule here

mercredi 3 août 2016

The 2016 Olympic Games preview : Dennis Goossens ready to take on the rings!

The 2016 Olympic Games are just a few days away now. It is time for me to try to predict what will happen during our gymnasts' competitions and what we can expect from them. First, let's start with our Lord of the Rings : Dennis Goossens!

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
Dennis Goossens will be the first of our representatives to enter the Olympic arena in Rio on Saturday. As the sole Belgian male gymnast in Brazil, he will compete in a mixed group with gymnasts from Latvia, Israel, Colombia, Belarus, Chile and Turkey. This group will compete in the first subdivision (out of three) of the day and will start on parallel bars. It is well known now that Dennis's best event are the rings and he will only focus on this apparatus in Rio.

The 2016 season has been a success so far for the young gymnast, as he reached two World Cup finals on rings, winning bronze in Cottbus, as well as the European Championships final, placing 7th. Dennis got his Olympic ticket last June, in Rotterdam, where he posted a massive 15.800 and therefore met the selection criteria set by the Federation. Two weeks later, he again scored a great 15.550 in Heerenveen, proving he was in an amazing shape.

Credit: GymFed
Dennis was the first gymnast to fly to Rio on July 25th. He got to experience the life in the Olympic Village and to get in the Games' atmosphere. And given by the great pics posted by GymFed, Dennis seems to really enjoy the Olympic vibe!

Credit: GymFed
The competition on rings will be fierce, as a lot of gymnasts are specialists on that event. The fight for gold will probably be between Greece's Eleftherios Petrounias, Brazil's Arthur Zanetti and China's Hou Yao. Anyway, our Lord of the Rings is ready to compete. 

Reaching the final will be complicated but if Dennis competes like he has been in the past few weeks, I'm absolutely 100% confident he could make it. He would be the first Belgian gymnast ever to qualify for an event final in an Olympic Games, showing that Belgium's MAG gymnasts are on the rise, and at 22, this Olympic experience will be a huge asset for him.

Here is Dennis' schedule (Belgium time):
* Saturday 06/08 - Qualifications
Subdivision 1: 15:30-18:00 (Dennis will compete on rings around 17:00)
Subdivision 2: 19:30-22:00
Subdivision 3: 23:30-02:00

The rings final will take place on Monday, August 15th at 19:00.

Belgium TV should broadcast the qualifications. RTBF (French) and Sporza (Dutch) have the rights for Belgium. If the qualifications are not shown on TV, I've been told it would be on the RTBF website. I'll make sure to keep you updated on a link. I will of course follow the competition and give you updates all day long on how Dennis performed and will give you scores and rankings updates through Facebook and Twitter ! Stay tuned and good luck Dennis!

Full schedule here