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