BEL-SWE-AUT, A Review From the Stands
It is with great pleasure that I share with you this piece by Marijn on the Belgium-Sweden-Austria Friendly. Marijn also wrote about Volunteering Adventures at the Flanders International Team Challenge and was kind enough to share her thoughts on the friendly meet.
Upon entering the arena, the gymnasts were warming up. You could immediately feel the competition vibe of strong, focused athletes doing their thing in leotards that look about ten times more sparkly in real life. The second-row seat also reminded me how physically and mentally hard the sport of gymnastics is. I could hear their feet pounding on the ground and noticed their facial expressions a lot more. The Belgian gymnasts in particular looked nervous and insecure, although some team members managed to keep their cool.
The Belgian team started off on floor with Cindy Vandenhole, Gaëlle Mys, Lisa Verschueren, Rune Hermans and Julie Croket. Although the girls only performed three tumbling passes - and double tucks and pikes were everywhere - their choreographies were fascinating and they sold their routines really well. Julie Croket also brought a new floor routine with Christina Aguilera music and a tucked full-in, 1.5 twist to full twist and a double pike as tumbling passes. She used an extra mat for her first pass and fell on her last pass, but her enthusiasm and well-executed leaps made up for it. The only thing that’s still on my wish list for team Belgium is cleaner landings and more difficult or more original passes.
Meanwhile on vault, Marcela Torres from Sweden pulled out of the competition, because her heavily taped hamstring was too painful. The star on this event was Emma Larsson, with a 1.5 twisting yurchenko almost stuck (14.033).
The next rotation was full-twisting yurchenko time for the Belgian team. Interestingly, Julie Croket changed her old front handspring vault to a FTY. During 30-second warm-ups bad luck struck her again as she injured her right ankle on the landing. Sigh. It is just heartbreaking how many times she has gotten injured right before a big meet and fought her way back, only to be knocked down again. As Julie was carried away by the physiotherapist, the rest of the team had to stay focused and hit. They rose to the challenge wonderfully. Rune, Cindy and Gaëlle scored around 13.500 and Lisa surprised me with a 13.800 and a block that makes me wonder whether she could get a 1.5 around if she trained it.
On uneven bars, the Belgians showed a lot more variation. Gaëlle was just happy to get through her routine without any major mistakes, while Lisa and Laura Waem showed off some great bars skills. Laura is still coming back from a knee surgery and therefore didn’t compete a dismount. First-year senior Cindy impressed me with her flowing rhythm and gorgeous tuck form in the dismount. Somewhere in between was Rune, with a lovely Chow at the beginning, unfortunately followed by an ugly pak and pirouette problems later on.
The balance beam didn’t show any mercy towards the gymnasts that day. Just like in general warm- ups, the Belgians had a lot of falls (and wobbles). To make matters even worse, they had to count all four scores, since Julie had to withdraw and Jelle Beullens only did exhibition routines on FX and BB. Fortunately, Gaëlle was there to save the day - and the provisional average of 11.250 - with a fantastic beam set that scored 14.200. After almost nine (!) years in the senior field, you can always count on Gaëlle to hit her favourite apparatus.
Emma Larsson concluded the competition on floor with a combination of artistry, energetic music, and powerful tumbling. Her opening pass was a double layout, followed by a full-in, a double tuck and a double pike. She did lose quite a few tenths in execution due to some extra steps, an uncontrolled landing and an out of bounds.
It’s a pity that I didn’t have enough eyes to take pictures, take notes, focus on team Belgium, keep an eye on team Sweden and have a good look at team Austria. Their D-scores were somewhat lower than the other teams and they couldn’t make up for it with Kyla-esque execution scores. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see what they came up with and I hope to see them grow just like team Belgium did in the previous years. That doesn’t mean that Belgium is there yet. They certainly have what it takes to make it to Rio as a team, but they do need to work on consistency and confidence. Maybe team USA can teach them how to be badass queens during competitions?
You can follow Marijn at spotlightgymnastics and can view her excellent pictures from the meet on flickr (HQ) or on facebook.
Thank you, Marijn!!
1. Belgium 211.549
2. Sweden 202.466
3. Austria 191.581
1. Gaelle Mys (BEL) 54.400
2. Rune Hermans (BEL) 52.783
3. Emma Larsson (SWE) 52.033
Results for the meet can be found here.