samedi 22 avril 2017

2017 European Championships: Nina Derwael is European Champion !

In an exciting final, Nina Derwael came on top to win gold madeal and make history for Belgium's gymnastics!

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
Nina Derwael was the 7th gymnast to go on the uneven bars final, right after Germany's Elisabeth Seitz, which whom she shared the 1st place after qualifications. In a final that saw three gymnasts fall, Nina managed to stay calm and perform a clean routine. 

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
She even managed to improve her qualifying score by 0.1 by posting 14.633 and take the gold, ahead of Russia's Elena Eremina and Elisabeth Seitz (Germany) and Elissa Downie (Great Britain).

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
This is the first time EVER that Belgium wins a gold medal at the European Championships. We have to go back to 2005 and Aagje Vanwalleghem's bronze medal on vault to find the last time a Belgian gymnast was on a podium.

After her 19th place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games and her 7th place at this year's European Championships, Nina Derwael once again writes history for Belgian gymnastics.

Uneven bars final results
1. Nina Derwael (BEL) 14.633
2: Elena Eeremina (RUS) 14.300
3. Elisabeth Seitz (GER) 14.133
3. Elissa Downie (GBR) 14.133
5. Kim Bui (GER) 13.900
6. Zsofia Kovacs (HUN) 13.100
7. Rebecca Downie (GBR) 13.000
8. Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos (FRA) 11.700

vendredi 21 avril 2017

2017 European Championships: 7th place finish for Nina Derwael in the AA!

In Friday's all-around final, Nina Derwael finished in place 7th place, the 2nd best result in Belgian gymnastics' history!

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
She started on beam, an event where she had troubles in qualifications. But not this time, as she scored a 12.733, more than 0.4 better than in qualifications, for a routine that included a backhandspring to a layout step out, a free cartwheel and a side somersault.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
On floor, her routine was clean, with controled landings. As usual, she pleased the crowd with a lot of expressivness and emotions. She once again improved her qualification score, with a 12.966. On vault, Nina performed a clean full twisting Yurchenko, with a small hop on the landing (13.533). 

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
She was last up on bars. She started off really well, performing a piked Tkatchev. On her signature move, a Ricna half to Ezhova, she unfortunately hit the bars with her feet, a costly mistake. She then finished strong with a full twisting double back dismount to score 13.600.

With a total score of 52.832, Nina Derwael finished at an amazing 7th place, the 2nd best result in Belgian gymnastics history, after Aagje Vanwalleghem and Gaelle Mys' 6th place finish at the European Championships in 2005 and 2006.

In Debrecen in 2005, Aagje Vanwalleghem also won a bronze medal on vault, the first ever medal for Belgium at Euros. On Saturday, Nina Derwael might write another page of history for her country, in the uneven bars final.

Full results AA here

2017 European Championships: top 20 for Maxime and Daan !

This Friday, Maxime Gentges and Daan Kenis both competed in the all-around final. The Belgians had a good competition overall, with great things and room for improvement. They placed in the top 20!

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
They started on vault. Maxime Gentges had to wait for at least 10 minutes before going because of a technical issue with the scoreboard. Not an ideal way to start a competition... He did a front handspring double somersault and sat it. He got 12.866. Daan Kenis performed a Yurchenko two and a half twist. He got 14.300. On parallel bars, both Maxime and Daan got a bit off balance on one of their elements but managed to save it. It were clean routines otherwise. Maxime got 12.900 and Daan received 13.533.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
On high bar, Maxime and Daan stayed on the apparatus, had great releases but had bent arms at some point which is a costly deduction. Daan got 12.500 and Maxime got 12.700. Great routine from Daan on floor, with lots of difficulty. Just a couple mistakes on the landings. He scored 13.533. Maxime was super clean, paying attention to details and landings. He scored 13.600.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
On pommel horse, Daan started off well, but then, his legs touched the pommels and he got off. He finished strong, scoring 12.466. Maxime had a leg separation but was clean otherwise (13.200). Finishing on rings, both Belgians had good routines. Maxime almost stuck his double piked dismount (13.200). Daan finished strong too.

With a total score of 79.232, Daan Kenis is 16th, while Maxime Gentges placed 19th with 78.499.

Results here

jeudi 20 avril 2017

2017 European Championships: Two individual finals for Nina Derwael

Today, Nina Derwael and Julie Meyers competed in qualifications in Cluj. Nina Derwael qualified for two individual finals!

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
They started on floor exercise, an event on which our gymnasts always show a lot of expressivness. Julie Meyers was first to go and started off well, performing a double tuck, a two and a half twist and a fronthandspring to full twist (11.833). Nina slipped on her first pass, a two and a half twist, and had to put her knee down. She finished strong with a double tuck (12.300).

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
On vault, they both performed a full twisting Yurchenko, with a hop on the landing. Julie scored 13.500, while Nina received 13.466. Moving on to bars, Julie Meyers unfortunately fell on her shaposhnikova with half turn. She then performed a high Tkatchev and a full twisting double back dismount (11.466).

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
As Nina told in her interview to FfG, her main goal was to qualify for the uneven bars final. And she did it with an amazing set! She performed a piked Tkatchev, a Ricna half to Ezhova, a shaposhnikova to pak salto and a full twisting double back dismount to score 14.566. With that score, she qualified for the final in 1st place, tied with Elisabeth Seitz (Germany).

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
On beam, Julie Meyers had a tough time, falling off twice. Her foot slipped on one of her leaps and she then fell on her acro series. She got 8.933. Nina Derwael had a couple of wobbles and missed some connections. She received 12.133.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
With a total score of 52.465, Nina Derwael qualified for the all-around final in 13th place. Unfortunately, it won't do it for Julie Meyers (45.732).

Nina will compete in the all-around final tomorrow at 4pm (Belgian time) and in the uneven bars final on Saturday at 12:30 (Belgian time).

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
Full results here

mercredi 19 avril 2017

2017 European Championships: two finals for Team Belgium

Today was the first day of qualifications at the European Championships in Cluj. Our boys took the stage and tried to qualify for the individual finals! Daan Kenis and Maxime Gentges both qualified for the all-around final.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Maxime Gentges and Jimmy Verbaeys were first up for Belgium on parallel bars. They both started off well, with just a little mistake for Jimmy in the beginning of the routine. Maxime scored 13.600 and Jimmy got 13.566. On horizontal bar, the two Belgians had a complicated rotation with heavy mistakes for both of them. Jimmy had to stop on the event and was too close to the bar on one of his releases. Maxime had a great routine until the dismount when he had to put his hands down. Jimmy scored 11.133 and Maxime got 12.133.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Mouving on to floor. Maxime stepped out of bounds but had a clean routine otherwise (13.066). Great routine for Jimmy Verbaeys with clean execution to score 13.700! On pommel horse, Jimmy had a clean routine until the dismount, when he touched the apparatus with his feet (12.700). Maxime hit his set, although it seemed a bit rough for him to reach handstand to dismount (13.600). It is a new routine for Maxime.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
On rings, both Belgians had good routines, with nice execution and almost stuck landings on the dismount. Jimmy got 12.700 and Maxime scored 13.100. On their last event, the vault, Jimmy had a step on the landing but was clean otherwise (13.766). Maxime performed a new vault, a front handspring double front, but unfortunately sat it. Luckily, his feet touched the mat first or he would have received a 0. He got credit for it and scored 12.866.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Maxime Gentges got a total score of 78.365 and Jimmy Verbaeys got 77.565.

On subdivision 2, Daan Kenis started for Team Belgium on pommel horse. A difficult start for him as he lost rhythm and had to stop in the middle of his routine. He finished strong and scored 12.700. On rings, Daan hit a good set but lacked the difficulty (13.000). Dennis Goossens made his debut in the competition on this event. Our Lord of the Rings received a 14.233 for his routine, which ended with a stuck dismount. Now, he has to wait to know if this will be enough for the final.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
On vault, Daan hit his Yurchenko two and a half twist to score 14.066. On parallel bars, he had a mistake on his hands placement but the rest was good. Daan got 13.133.

On high bar, Kristof Schroé was the first Belgian to go. He unfortunately had a rough day, falling twice during his routine. He scored 10.900. Daan started off really well but fell on one of his releases too. He scored 12.633.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Daan finished his qualifications on floor exercise with a great routine to score 13.700 ! With a total score of 79.232, he ranked 19th in qualifications.

Maxime Gentges placed 24th while Jimmy Verbaeys placed 29th and will not advance to the final.

No final on rings for Dennis Goossens. The Olympic finalist placed 15th (14.233). Kristof Schroé placed 85th on high bar.

Full results here

vendredi 14 avril 2017

2017 European Championships: all you need to know!

In a few days, 8 Belgian gymnasts will compete at the 2017 European Championships in Cluj-Napoca (Romania). Here is all you need to know about the team and schedule!

Credit: UEG
On the Men's side, the team is composed of Jimmy Verbaeys, Maxime Gentges, Daan Kenis, Kristof Schroé, Dennis Goossens and Jonathan Vrolix. Verbaeys, Gentges and Kenis will compete in the all-around in qualifications and will try to make the top 24. Dennis Goossens will compete on rings, where is has a great shot at making the final. Jonathan Vrolix will compete on floor and vault, while Kristof Schroé will compete on horizontal bar.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik & FfG
The boys will compete in the 1st and 2nd subdivision in qualifications. We don't know yet who will compete in which subdivision, but the ones competing in the 1st subdivision will start on parallel bars and the ones competing in the second subdivision will start on pommel horse. Keep in mind that this year's Europeans are individual, there won't be a team competition.

* Wednesday 19 April - 10:00-20:40: Men's qualifications
* Friday 21 April - 13:00-15:45: Men's all-around final
* Saturday 22 April - 13:30-16:40: Men's apparatus finals (floor, pommel horse and still rings)
* Sunday 23 April - 13:30-16:40: Men's apparatus finals (vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar)

How to follow the competition:
The competition will be livestreamed by the Eurovision platform here.
You can also follow the score thanks to the SmartScoring App or by following the blog on Facebook or Twitter. Review of the competition will also be posted on the blog, along with pictures.

On the Women's side, team Belgium will be represented by Nina Derwael and Julie Meyers. Senna Deriks was set to compete but unfortunately injured her knee in training last week. Both Nina and Julie will compete on all four events in qualifications with the hope of reaching individual finals. Nina has a great shot at qualifying for the uneven bars final.

Credit: Spotlight Gymnastics
The girls will compete either in the 1st or 3rd subdivision. In the 1st subdivision, the gymnast will start on bars. The one competing in the 3rd subidivision will start on floor. As for the boys, the competition is an individual one, no team competition this year.

* Thursday 20 April - 10:00-20:30: Women's qualifications
* Friday 21 April - 17:30-19:30: Women's all-around final
* Saturday 22 April - 13:30-16:40: Women's apparatus finals (vault and uneven bars)
* Sunday 23 April - 13:30-16:40: Women's apparatus finals (balance beam and floor exercise)

How to follow the competition:
The competition will be livestreamed by the Eurovision platform here.
You can also follow the score thanks to the SmartScoring App or by following the blog on Facebook or Twitter. Review of the competition will also be posted on the blog, along with pictures.

jeudi 13 avril 2017

Interview - Nina Derwael : "I hope to qualify for the uneven bars final at Euros"

In the April issue of FfG's Mouv' Magazine (that you can find here), Nina Derwael talks about her upgrades, how was it like for her to comeback after the Olympics, and what are her expectations at the upcoming European Championships. 

Credit: Spotlight Gymnastics
FfG : How is it going for you lately, Nina ?
Nina Derwael: For now, we are preparing for the European Championships. We are training our new routines with our new skills and we try to make them as clean and steady as possible.

FfG: You had a pretty good Olympic experience. Were you expecting such good results for your first Olympics?
Nina: We were mostly there to do our thing, we were well prepared. I think we just wanted to do our best in qualifications and everything that happened after that was just a bonus.

FfG: Did you get more attention afterwards, from the media, the fans? How did you managed this aspect of the Olympic Games?
Nina: After the Games, it’s true that gymnastics received a bit more attention than usual, for quite some time, but everything’s back to normal now. It’s true that we never see gymnastics on TV or in the media so it was nice to see press articles about the sport and to see that people were interested in gymnastics.

FfG: Was it difficult for you to come back to the gym after the Games?
Nina: I think that because I had good results in Rio, it wasn’t too difficult for me to come back and work for what comes next and to have other good experiences and results.

FfG: With Gaelle Mys and Julie Croket’s retirements, we can now say that you are one of the leader of the team. Does it change something for you in the gym? Are the younger ones coming to you for advice?
Nina: Before the Games, I was already there to help the younger ones. But, for example, when I was preparing the competition in Barcelona (last November), the little ones had an internal competition in Ghent. It was their first one and they weren’t use to it, so they were coming to me to ask me some advice, to help them with the stress. And during the test, I was giving them advice too, like when to put your jacket on to not get cold and stay warm, or that kind of things.

FfG: You recently competed a new bars routine. Can you tell us more about it? How did you put it together? Was it a routine you planned with your coach, Marjorie Heuls?
Nina: It’s a routine Marjorie wanted me to try. It’s been a year, a year and a half that I’m working on it, but I didn’t have that much time before the Olympic Games. So when I had a little more time, like once a week, I was working on it, but I really started to train it seriously after Rio. It’s a routine that allows me to add more difficulty to my start value. The routine I competed at the Top 12 in France isn’t the definitive version of the routine, I’m still changing some things, but it’ll basically remain the same.

FfG: What about the other events? Are you working on upgrades?
Nina: On floor, I’m now doing a tucked full-in. I’ll also maybe change the last pass. Before, I was doing a two and a half twist but I might change it to a double back somersault because it’s cleaner. On vault, we are training the Yurchenko one and a half and the double twisting Yurchenko, and it’s going well. And on beam, we mostly work on the combinations and I’ll also change the mount.

FfG: What are your goals at the upcoming European Championships?
Nina: I’d like to have a great result in the all-around. I’d like to make the top 10 and I hope to qualify for the uneven bars final.

FfG: And maybe win a medal?
Nina: If I make it to the final, then yes, I’d go there to try and win a medal (laughs).

The Dutch version of the interview is available here

Interview - Maxime Gentges: "The level in our team has never been so high"

In the March issue of FfG's Mouv' Magazine, Maxime Gentges talks about his goals at the upcoming European Championships and the future of Belgium's men gymnastics team. You can find the interview in French here.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
FfG: How are you feeling lately, Maxime?
Maxime Gentges: My current shape is quite peculiar. I'm 100% motivated, with big goals in mind, but on the other hand, I have a wrist injury which keeps me from having the optimal preparation. Last year, I trained and competed despite the injury to try and qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio and even after a period of rest, the pain is still there. We tried different treatments but for now, nothing's really working. It is quite frustrating because mentally, I'd like to train as hard as I can but physically, I can't do that right now.

FfG: What are your main goals this year? 
Maxime : The main goal in this first part of the season is the European Championship for me and Team Belgium. The goal is to reach the all-around final and the pommel horse final but because of my wrist, my training is highly disturbed, and especially on pommels which is the most painful apparatus for the type of injury I have.  Then, I hope to compete at the Universiades in August, where I'd like to perform new routines on the horizontal bar and pommel horse. But the biggest goal of 2017 are the World Championships in Montreal at the beginning of October. It will be the real start towards this new Olympic cycle and I hope to be in the top 20 right from the beginning to then increase my level each year and be at the top of my game by 2020.

FfG: We can see that gymnastics in Belgium is more and more competitive. And you are part of this generation of gymnasts that pushes the team and contributes to the great results the country has had the past years. How does it feel?
Maxime: Indeed, we are on the right path and it's really satisfying. I've been in the gymnastics world for quite some time now, and I think that the level in our team has never been so high. It took us time to get there but we already had great results back in 2012, when we placed 5th as a team at the Juniors European Championships. And this generation is now at an age where it can compete with other countries that have been in the game for much longer. In addition to that, we also have older gymnasts like Jimmy Verbaeys or Dennis Goossens who are in great shape and who bring more experience thanks to their participations at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Personally, I'm really proud to be a part of this team and since January, I go to Ghent once a week to train alongside them and to reinforce the team spirit we need for the important meets we'll have in the future.

FfG: Last year, Belgium could only send one male gymnast to the Olympic Games. You were in the mix but you didn't make it in the end. Can you tell us how was it like for you?
Maxime: It's a really tough question because even now, I don't really know how I feel about it. The 2016 season is certainly one of the best in my career, in terms of international results, but it looks like a personal failure because of this non-qualifcation for the Games. It was really hard for me to process the whole thing because there have been so many twists and turns in the qualification process, starting with Belarus' withdrawal from the Test Event. I had the best result among the Belgians at the Test Event in Rio, synonymous of a qualifying spot for the Games. It was thus a bit frustrating to think that, in a way, I earned the spot for our country and in the end, I didn't get the chance to go and represent Belgium at the Games. The months afterwards were really tough for me, I was kind of low. But I thank Dennis Goossens every day for his amazing performance and to have reach the final. It makes the whole thing much easier to process. 

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
FfG: after such a busy year, with all the focus on the Olympic Games, how did you keep your motivation? What was it like for you to come back to the gym, knowing the next Olympics are three years from now?
Maxime: It was hard at first. I had so much hope for Rio that it was really hard for me to go back to the gym with no short-terms goals. Mentally, I was a bit lost and I had no motivation. And then, the love for the sport just took over. Being in the gym every day, giving it my all, going beyond my limits, the fear of learning new skills, all of those things just made me more and more motivated for what comes next. It is true that Tokyo is in a bit more than 3 years, but the road that leads to it is also a source of pleasure, and that's what matters.

FfG: For now, you're the only French-speaking gymnast in the Seniors National team. But the younger ones, like Takumi Onoshima, are right behind you. Is it an extra pressure or does it motivate you to work even harder? Do you give them advice? 
Maxime: I think I'm the first to be happy about the fact that the younger ones follow my path. I think you can tell on a daily basis because I can't keep myself from giving them advice when I feel the need to. I don't see it as a threat at all, on the contrary. I'm a competitor and the more they grow as gymnasts, the more I want to fight, which can only be positive for my future.

FfG: Your brother, Gilles, who trained alongside you for years, is now  coach at the Elite Center in Mons. How is it like to have him by your side, but not as a gymnast anymore? 
Maxime: It's the big novelty this year for the Elite Center this year on the MAG side. Gilles brings a lot of energy as a coach and it is highly stimulating for the gymnasts. In the end, the transition felt really natural, and I'm very happy to have him by my side.

FfG: What can we wish you for the 2017 season?
Maxime: I'll take all the positive outcomes but I'd like to have a year-free from injuries.