jeudi 21 décembre 2017

Laura Waem retires from elite gymnastics

Earlier today, Team Belgium member Laura Waem said goodbye to the sport she loved and moved on to the next chapter of her life. Over the years, Laura has been a rock on the Belgian team, reaching several international finals and making history mutliple times.

Credit: An Vanderstraeten
Laura made her debut on the big stage back in 2012, when she was named to the Belgian Juniors team for the European Championships, held in Belgium. There, she already showed promises, placing 12th in the team qualifications and 30th in the all-around.

Credit: An vanderstraeten
She turned Senior the following year, starting the year at the International Gymnix in Canada, where she placed 4th on balance beam and 6th on uneven bars, as well as 12th in the all-around. After winning a bronze medal at Belgian Championships, she was named to the Worlds team, along with Lisa Verschueren and Gaelle Mys. There, she made history, qualifying for the all-around final with Gaelle. This was the first time two Belgian gymnasts qualified for the AA final at Worlds. In final, she placed 21st.

In 2014, she returned to Canada, where she reached three finals again (all-around, uneven bars and balance beam). After a successful Belgian championship (2nd), she was selected for the European Championships in Sofia, where the Belgian team ranked 7th in the team final. 

Credit: An vanderstraeten
She ended the year 2014 with the World Championships in China, where she contributed to the beautiful 11th place finish of the team and where she reached once again the all-around final ( 24th). A huge asset to the team, she was once again selected to compete to the World Championships in Glasgow in 2015. Laura helped the team finish 11th and securing a ticket for the Test Event in Rio where Belgium would try to qualify a full team for the Olympic Games for the 1st time since 1948.

In 2016, Laura made history once again. She was part of the Belgian team that  was sent to the Test Event, where they qualified for the Olympic Games and qualifying herself for the uneven bars final where she placed 7th. She was then selected to compete at the Olympic Games that summer, where Team Belgium ended in 12th place.

Credit: An vanderstraeten
After taking some time off to heal a foot injury, Laura came back earlier this year and was set to compete last November at her first competition since the Games but unfortunately tore her Achilles in practice. Kown for her bars work, Laura was a complete athlete, looking good on every event, especially on beam and floor, where her artistry was amazing to witness. Olympian, World all-around finalist and European team finalist : Laura achieved it all and is part of Belgian gymnastics history.

With the retirement of Lisa Verschueren two years ago due to a heart condition, and the ones of Julie Croket and Gaelle Mys last year, this is a page of Belgian gymnastics that turns. Laura will be greatly miss within the gymnastics world . She will now focus on her studies and start the new chapter of her life.

Laura, thank you for everything and good luck !

Career highlights:
2016 - Olympic Games (Rio De Janeiro): 12th (team)
2016 - Olympic Test Event (Rio De Janeiro): 3rd (team), 7th (uneven bars)
2016 - International Gymnix (Montreal): 1st (team)
2015 - World Championships (Glasgow) : 11th (team)
2014 - World Championships (Nanning): 11th (team), 24th (all-around)
2014 - Belgian Championships: 2nd (all-around)
2014 - European Championships (Sofia): 7th (team), 7th (all-around)
2014 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal): 6th (all-around), 7th (uneven bars), 8th (balance beam)
2013 - World Championships (Antwerp): 21st (all-around)
2013 - Belgian Championships: 3rd (all-around)
2013 - Gymfinales (Ghent) : 1st (uneven bars)
2013 - World Challenger Cup (Anadia): 7th (uneven bars)
2013 - International Gymnix Canada (Montreal): 12th (all-around), 6th (uneven bars), 4th (balance beam)
2012 - European Junior Championships (Brussels): 12th (team), 30th (all-around)

jeudi 30 novembre 2017

2017 Top Gym : Martina Dominici dominates the 20th edition !

Last weekend, the Top Gym celebrated its 25th anniversary and its 20th edition. For that occasion, the Gymnos de Charleroi invited prestigious countries that made history at the Top Gym. 

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
But in the end, it is what we can call a small gymnastics country that came on top, with Argentina's Martina Dominici dominating the competition on both days to win 5 medals !

On Saturday, she won the all-around competition which, for the first time in the tournament's history, had to be organised in two subdivision. Dominici showed great execution and loads of difficulty, to win gold with 52.516. Mathilde Wahl, from France, won the silver medal, thanks to her great work on bars and a beautiful floor routine. She earned 51.149. In 3rd place, we find Kaytlyn Johnson, from the club of Denton, who impressed with her double twisting Yurchenko on vault (50.700).

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
On the Belgian side, our country was represented by Cassia Priels and Isabella Jorio for the Gymnos Charleroi, and by Cato Fleurackers and Lisa Vaelen for the Gympies Keerbergen. Lisa got the highest ranking, with an 8th place (49.482). Cato placed 19th (47.250) and Cassia was 23rd (46.683). Isabella started off really well on vault but looked injured and had to withdraw from the competition while performing on the balance beam.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
All-around results:
1. Martina Dominici (ARG) 52.516
2. Mathilde Wahl (FRA) 51.149
3. Kaytlyn Johnson (USA-Denton) 50.700
4. Phoebe Jakubczyk (GBR) 50.499
5. Amelie Morgan (GBR) 50.466
...
8. Lisa Vaelen (BEL-Gympies) 49.482
19. Cato Fleurackers (BEL-Gympies) 47.250
23. Cassia Priels (BEL-Gymnos) 46.683
42. Isabella Jorio (BEL-Gymnos) 26.000 (3 events)

On Sunday, Johnson added a gold medal to her collection, as she won the vault title, thanks to her power, and a great DTY, ahead of Dominici and Czech Republic's Dominika Ponizolova, who won the bronze medal just 0.025 ahead of Julia Forestier (France).

Vault podium:
1. Kaytlyn Johnson (USA) 14.550
2. Martina Dominici (ARG) 13.800
3. Dominika Ponizolova (CZE) 13.600

Martina Dominici then went on the win the bars title and add yet another medal to her collection. She took the gold ahead of France's Mathilde Wahl and Romania's Iulia Berar, who won Romania's sole medal at this year's Top Gym.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Uneven bars podium:
1. Martina Dominici (ARG) 12.800
2. Mathilde Wahl (FRA) 12.650
3. Iulia Berar (ROM) 12.400

On beam, Sweden's Jessica Castles came on top to win the gold with a beautiful and difficult exercise, ahead of Julia Forestier from France, and Martina Dominici, winning here her 3rd medal of the day. 

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Balance beam podium:
1. Jessica Castles (SWE) 12.400
2. Julia Forestier (FRA) 12.350
3. Martina Dominici (ARG) 12.150

The floor final promised to be really exciting, with gymnasts such as Zoe Simmons from Wales who showed a double front, or Romania's Silviana Sfiringu who has a piked full-in. But in the end, it's Great Britain's Amelie Morgan who won gold, with a complex yet perfectly controlled exercise. Jessica Castles (SWE) and Zoe Simmons (WAL) picked the silver and bronze medals.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Floor exercise podium:
1. Amelie Morgan (GBR) 13.450
2. Jessica Castles (SWE) 13.000
3. Zoe Simmons (WAL) 12.900

For years now, the Top Gym has been known for is very particular team final format. Two countries are paired and compete together to win the title. Jolie Ruckley and Zoe Simmons from Wales, paired with Mari Kanter and Julie Rottum from Norway won the team gold. Just behind them, we find Great Britain's Amelie Morgan and Phoebe Jakubczyk and Canada's Quinn Skrupa and Lucia Jakab. Martina Dominici, paired with Cassia Priels (Gymnos) and Iceland's Sonja Olafsdottir and Vigdis Palmadottir won the bronze.

Credit: Belgian Gymnastics
Team final podium:
1. Norway/Wales 97.425
2. Canada 1/Great Britain 96.700
3. Argentina/Belgium/Iceland 95.525

Full results here
Pictures are available here.
More will follow on our Facebook page

dimanche 19 novembre 2017

2017 Elite Gym Massilia: 6th place as a team, 5 finals and a bronze medal for Margaux Daveloose

This weekend, Marseille hosted the 2017 edition of the Elite Gym Massilia, a prestigious international competition that gathered Youth, Juniors and Seniors gymnasts. Our country was well represented and the girls come home from Marseille with 5 finals and one bronze medal !


Credit: Elite Gym Massilia
On Friday, Fien Enghels and Julie Vandamme competed in the Open competition as a mixed group. Fien placed 9th in the all-around with a total score of 49.567. Julie Vandamme placed 15th. Fien qualified for two finals, on bars and floor.

On Saturday, Belgium competed in the Master competition, consisting of the 6th best team plus the two best teams of the Open competition that took place on Friday. Our team was a mix of Juniors and Seniors, with Margaux Daveloose, Julie Meyers, as well as Senna Deriks and Axelle Klinckaert competing, both returning back to competition after injuries that kept them from the sport for quite a long time. Axelle and Senna both made appearances at the Belgian Championships and the FIT Challenge respectively, where they only did one event (uneven bars). But in Marseille, they showed they were on their way back as they competed on all four events.

The team started on vault, where Axelle, who we didn't see compete on vault since the Dutch Open back in June 2016 (!), got the highest score with 13.700, followed by Senna Deriks (13.350). On bars, Senna showed all her talent, scoring 13.450. Margaux hit a pretty solid routine too, earning a 12.150.

Moving on to beam, Team Belgium had some struggles there, Axelle posting the highest score with 11.950, followed by Margaux with 11.900. Senna got 10.800, while Julie earned 11.750. They finished on floor where things got much better. Senna Deriks displayed a brand new floor routine for which she got 12.300. Axelle Klinckaert, finally back from injury, was the last on floor and showed great energy to deliver a piked full-in and a double pike for wich she got 13.150.

In the all-around, Axelle got the best ranking as she placed 10th (50.900). No podium for Belgium but a good 6th place finish. In addition to these results, Axelle qualified for the floor final, alongside Margaux Daveloose in the Junior category, and Senna for the bars final, that took place on Sunday.

Credit: Sofie Naert
In these finals, Fien Enghels placed 5th on bars and 6th on floor, while Margaux Daveloose earned a beautiful bronze medal on this event, with 12.533. Senna missed the bars podium by a bit more than a tenth, placing 4th (13.233). Axelle got a bit of troubles on floor as she finished in 6th place with 11.867.


Full results here
Videos of the competition here

dimanche 12 novembre 2017

Busy schedule for Team Belgium !

The past month has been pretty intense for our gymnasts with several international competition in the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Belgium, competitions from which our gymnasts brought back medals ! Here's a recap!
Credit: GymFed
Šalamunov Memorial, Slovenia - 20-21st October 
A few weeks ago, Luka Vanden Keybus, Jimmy Verbaeys, Noah Kuavita and Takumi Onosima travelled to Slovenia for the Šalamunov Memorial, an international competition that gathered Juniors and Seniors gymnasts. This competition was successful for Team Belgium as they won 6 medals ! Jimmy Verbaeys won the all-around title, and two bronze medals, on rings and horizontal bar. Noah Kuavita won the silver medal in the all-around and added a couple of medals, the silver on parallel bars and the gold on horizontal bar! Takumi, who's a first year Senior, was held back by a back injury but still made it to the parallel bars final. However, he didn't compete in order to focus on his healing process, as he'll be competing at the Cottbus World Cup next week.

Wase Gym Cup, Belgium - 27-29th October
The 14th edition of the Wase Gym Cup turned out to be very great for our gymnasts with wins in almost every cathegories. In the Youth division, Dries De Schepper won the all-around titel, ahead of Bram Vanmullem and Biek Janssens, while Charlotte Beydts brought home the gold in the WAG's side, ahead of teammates Keziah Langendonck and Kato De Laet. Registered as competitors for GymFed, they also won the team title in both categories.

Credit: Liesbeth Coremans
The Juniors and the Seniors were competing together in what was an exciting competition. On the MAG's side, Justin Pesesse, Mattis Bouchet, Bram De Ridder and Nicola Cuyle, won the team title for Team Belgium. Justin, Mattis and Nicola also went on the place 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the all-around in this competition which served as a selection competition for the International friendly match against the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy. On the WAG's side, Sweden Alva Eriksson won the all-around gold ahead of Elze Geurts and Juliette Pijnacker from Amsterdam. Amsterdam also went on to win the team title.

Full results here

NED-BEL-ITA-SUI friendly match, the Netherlands - 4th November
The weekend after the Wase Gym Cup, Justin Pesesse, Nicola Cuyle, Mattis Bouchet, Bjorn Luypaert and Victor Martinez competed in this Juniors friendly match, a selection competition for next year's YOG. The team won a good team bronze, behind Switzerland and Italy. In the all-around, Justin Pesesse was the best Belgian, with a 6th place finish. 

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
Nicola placed 11th, Mattis was 13th and Victor placed 16th for his bery first Juniors international selection. Bjorn Luypaert unfortunately got injured on his very first apparatus, the vault.

Full results here

Swiss Cup, Switerland - 4th November
In the very same weekend as the friendly match for our MAG Juniors team, the WAG U13 was in Zurich for the Juniors Swiss Cup. The team, composed of Stacy Bertrandt, Noémie Louon, Keziah Langendonck, Kato De Laet, Calisse Kums and Jutta Verkest won the team silver, behind Germany and ahead of Switzerland. 

Credit: Swiss Federation
Stacy Betrandt also won the all-around title, ahead of Germany's Aiyu Zhu and Switzerland's Lili Habisreutinger. Noemie Louon wasn't far behind with a 4th place finish!. 

Full results here

Tournoi International of Combs-La-Ville, France - 11-12th November
This weekend, Margaux Daveloose, Julie Vandamme, Fien Enghels (team 1), Jade Vansteenkiste, Noémie Louon and Stacy Bertrandt (team 2) were in France for the Tournoi International of Combs-La-Ville. No medals here for our gymnasts but plenty of experience for the future. Team 1 placed 6th and team 2 placed 11th. In the all-around, Noémie Louon got the best result with a 15th place finish. 

What's next?
* 17-19/11 : Jan Gajdos Memorial, Czech Republic
* 17-19/11 : Elite Gym Massilia, France
* 23-26/11 : Cottbus World Cup, Germany
* 25-26/11 : Top Gym, Belgium
* 25/11 : Future Cup Linz, Austria
* 9-10/12 : Christmas Cup, Luxembourg

mardi 10 octobre 2017

A reflection on Worlds: what's next?

On Sunday night, the lights were turned off in the Olympic Arena in Montreal, putting an end to the 47th World gymnastics championships. In Montreal, our Team Belgym showed promises, talent, and that hard work always pays off. With an historic bronze medal and three finals, but also all our gymnasts in the top 30, future seems bright for Belgium's gymnastics.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
After a season packed of competitions, Maxime Gentges arrived in Montreal with high hopes and expectations, wishing to make it to the all-around final. Unfortunately, the young gymnast from Malmedy fell short and missed the final for a point, placing 29th with a total score of 76.364. Although this result is not the one he was hoping for, Maxime's performance in Montreal remains a great achievement, placing in the top 30 at Worlds, his best result. With a nagging wrist injury, Maxime kept pushing and gave his best, but will now have to undergo surgery. No doubt he'll be ready for the 2018 season, with his focus on the European and World Championships.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
On the women's side, three gymnasts represented our country and they represented it well! Let's start with Maellyse Brassart. These Worlds were her very first big championships since she joined the seniors ranks in January. Injured just a few weeks ago, her status was uncertained until last minute but she ultimately was ready for the all-around, where she can score in the 53s. In Montreal, she showed a lot of promises, especially on floor and vault, her strongest apparatuses. Even though she finished third among the Belgians, her 25th place in qualifications is outstanding and promising as she can do even better, having to call a fall on bars.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
Then comes Rune Hermans. The 18 years old is a veteran in the team, participating in her second World Championships. Two years ago, in Glasgow, she was then the baby of the team, but was already a star in the making, reaching the all-around final and placing 19th for her first major championships. As she told to Sporza before leaving for Montreal, she hoped to do better in Montreal. And boy she did! She qualified for the all-around final in 21st place, despite a fall on beam. In final, Rune was rock-solid, showing amazing lines and strong performances on floor and bars. With a total of 52.299, she ranked 11th in final, which is the second best results in Belgian's gymnastics history. In my opinion, Rune has everything it takes to be an even better all-arounder in the future, and should be a lock to the team in the coming years.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
And finally, we have Nina Derwael. What more can we say about Nina? The words historical, magic, unbelievable, amazing have been used so many times in the past 14 months, starting with her incredible performance in the Olympic Games. Less than a year later, she made a name for herself as the new Queen of the uneven bars, being crowned European Champion in Cluj-Napoca, the first ever European title in Belgium's gymnastics history. With all the pressure that comes with this medal, she worked harder than ever, upgrading her bars routine, but also her beam and floor. Because Nina is so much more than just a bars specialist. She's an all-arounder first and foremost. In the all-around final, she placed 8th, the highest ranking ever achieved by a Belgian gymnast, male or female, at Worlds. But the best was yet to come. She knew - we all knew - she had the potential to medal on bars. Nina made (once again) history by qualifying for the final, being the first female gymnast to qualify for an apparatus final for our country. No matter what, she had put her mark on this year's World Championships. But she wanted more. With 15.033, Nina not only broke her personal record, she became the first female gymnast to bring home a World medal, the first World medal in 104 years for Belgium (last time was in 1913 with Pierre Hentges winning a bronze on parallel bars. Then, only 5 countries were taking part at Worlds). Historical. Magic. Unbelievable. Amazing. 

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
The hardest now will be for our gymnasts to stay focused and keep training. The next major competition will be the European Championships in August 2018. No doubt that our gymnasts' performances will be a big push for the next generation but also to the rest of the national team. Next year, the Road To Tokyo begins. And we'll be in the stands, cheering for our heroes.

2017 Worlds: Nina Derwael wins a historical bronze medal on uneven bars!

After an amazing performance in the all-around final along with Rune Hermans, Nina Derwael did even better in the uneven bars final, winning a historical bronze medal !

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
Nina successfully qualified for the final with the 4th best scores out of the 8 gymnasts that made it, posting 14.966. But she knew she had to step up her game if she wanted to medal. Which she did.

She was the second gymnast to go on Saturday, and with the best routine she's ever performed, she managed to score 15.033, earning the best score of her career under the new code of points ! All she had to do now was to wait anxiously.

Only two gymnasts surpassed her : the reigning World Champion, China's Fan Yilin (15.166), and European silver medalist Elena Eremina (Russia, 15.100), leaving Nina Derwael with a historical bronze medal around her neck.

What Nina achieved in Montreal is an amazing accomplishment. After being the first female gymnast to ever qualify to an apparatus final, she got Belgium's highest ranking in the all-around competition with an 8th place finish.

Her bronze medal, the first for a female gymnast at Worlds, ends 104 years of shortage, the last medal being won in 1913 by Pierre Hentges on parallel bars, in a time where only 5 countries were competing at Worlds. 

After returning home on Monday, Nina will now enjoy a little of fame and will get back to work, with Glasgow and the European Championships in sight.

Full results here

samedi 7 octobre 2017

2017 Worlds: historical performances for Nina Derwael and Rune Hermans in final !

Last night, Nina Derwael and Rune Hermans both competed in the all-around final, with the hope of improving their qualification score. But they did even better than that, as they both placed in the top 12 and made history once again !

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
Nina started her competition on the uneven bars, her best event, where she got 14.966 to take the lead. That score was the highest of the competition, not only on the uneven bars but on all four events! Rune was in the 4th group and started on floor exercise, where she performed a piked full-in, un one and a half twist to full twist and a two and a half twist to front tuck, for which she received a 13.066.

In the lead after the first rotation, things got a bit more complicated on beam for Nina, as she fell on her back handspring layout step out. She finished strong, with a triple wolf turn, a double wolf turn and a Gainer dismount (11.633). On vault, Rune got a 13.300 for a Yurchenko full twist.

Moving on to floor, Nina performed the best floor routine of her season, posting 13.366 with her double piked, one and a half twist to full twist and a double tuck. No problem for Rune on bars, where she improved her qualifying score, getting a 13.900.

Before the last rotation, both Nina and Rune were in the top 10, which was already a huge accomplishment. Rune finished her competition on balance beam, an event that had caused troubles to all the competitiors all night long. Rune didn't fell but she had to count some major wobbles (12.033). Nina received a 13.533 for her Yurchenko full twist on vault.

Credit: Mathias Hikketik
With a total score of 53.498, Nina ranked 8th in the all-around, while Rune placed 11th (52.299). Our Belgians made history once again, achieving the best all-around results two gymnasts ever had ! Before that, the best results were a 17th and a 19th place obtained in 2015 in Glasgow by former elite gymnast Lisa Verschueren and ... Rune Hermans !

The all-around title was won by USA's Morgan Hurd (55.232), ahead of crowd favorite Elsabeth Black (Canada, 55.132) and Russia's Elena Eremina (54.799). The favorite to win the gold, the American Ragan Smith, sustained an ankle injury just a few minutes before the competition started.

Tonight, Nina Derwael will compete in the uneven bars final and will make history once again, as she's the first Belgian female gymnast to compete in an event final at Worlds.

Full results here.