AMSTERDAM – Tonight the Dutch crew of gymnasts, health care professionals, coaches and judges is leaving for Baku for the first European Games ever. Time for IntoGymnastics to write a preview.
During the qualifiers for the men Casimir Schmidt and Karl Kosztka were the first to win a ticket to Baku. While Bram Verhofstad and Frank Rijken were still in competition for the third ticket to Baku, Kosztka lost his. The KNGU decided, in close conversation with national coach Mitch Fenner, the pull out the previously qualified gymnast Kark Kosztka, because of a disciplinary measure, because he broke the KNGU behavioral regulations. As well as Schmidt, Rijken and Verhofstad are now both sure of their ticket to Baku. Did this influence the preparations? “Generally not. The definitive team had not been chosen anyway, because the decisions still had to be made whether they were going to choose for Bram or Frank. So all four of us did the preparations.” Schmidt explains.
The past week the gentlemen competed in an international contest with Belgium. Schmidt managed to reach an astounding total of 87.45 points and showed he was completely ready for the very first European Games in Azerbaijan. “That was pretty nice, everything turned out better than normal,” the self-confident Schmidt tells us. “Floor and vault jumped out especially,” On floor the gymnast reached 15.4 points and on vault two points above the 15.200 “I am performing two new vaults, the Tsukahara with triple twist and a front handspring with double twist.” Schmidt performed the entire program of what he has planned for Baku. The scores he reached here will certainly promise a lot for the European Games this month. Frank Rijken has prepared a bit less, in between the two qualifiers he got injured, “My injury did give me an extra boost, that was necessary to catch up on everything.” The gymnast from O&O Zwijndrecht explains, “It’s about six weeks ago and it’s going much better with the injury, I am still recovering more and more.” Rijken will perform in Baku on the even bars, the high bar, pommel horse and rings. “On these four apparatuses I have performed full routines.” Verhofstad is the third man traveling to Baku. Like Rijken, he will not perform on all apparatuses, “I did all my routines several times, but there was only one moment where I got scores for them,” Verhofstad explains. “And that was the contest that went least well. Then I had a 13.6 on floor and the high bar, a 14.9 on vault and a 11.something on rings because my grip tore..” Verhofstad is the oldest of the team, but has the least experience. Still that doesn’t bother him at all, “I don’t really notice it, there is not that much difference in age and we all treat each other equally.”
Lieke Wevers was the first Dutch woman winning a ticket to Baku. During both qualifiers she won the first place, with a big difference in points with the women on number 2 and 3. Later it was published Celine van Gerner and Lisa Top were chosen over Vera van Pol and Maartje Ruikes.
Last weekend four of these women performed at the Flanders
International Team Challenge in Ghent. Van Gerner was
present but did not compete due to the recovery of a back
injury. Wevers ended up as the best Dutch gymnast in the individual classification. “I notice I am growing more and more assured. It’s all going a little bit better.” Lieke Wevers tells us, “I performed my complete program that I want to do in Baku. I still need to add some connections on beam. Apparently I can’t always manage to reach them when I have to, while in training it goes well time and time again.” Still she looks ahead to Baku with much self-assurance. “I performed a very high vault and in training I even do an extra twist in my vault. I feel there is still room to build up from that. It would be nice if I could perform that vault in Baku. I am looking forward to it.” Lisa Top also
performed her full program in Ghent , “It’s going well and I can be very satisfied,” The gymnast from Turncentrum Sportstad Heerenveen laughs. She stood out in Ghent at the international contest after a long period of absence, “I performed my complete program and it felt good. Now I still have to work on the details, perform a little neater and stay within the lines of the floor,” Van Gerner explains her injury is not causing trouble for Baku: “I didn’t perform in Ghent on purpose. If I would compete there I would enter the week broken and can’t train full out. My back has pretty much recovered and I can use next week to fully complete my program.”
As a team the Netherlands has a clear goal. To reach the top 8 with the women as well as the men’s team. National coach Gergen Wiersma says, “To reach a top 8 with the team is the main goal. Aside from that I think it is very possible to reach a place in the all-around finals. Apparatus finals are hard to predict but who knows Lisa Top has a chance of reaching the one on floor and Lieke Wevers on the uneven bars or beam.”
The teams exist of three people, for the men as well as the women. In Baku they are performing through the 3-3-2 system. Aside from that they can reach a spot on the all-around finals. One gymnast per country can qualify themselves for the finals. In the men’s team it is already clear that only Casimir Schmidt will try to reach these finals. In the women’s team there is still a competition going on, “Obviously there is only one lady who can go to the women’s all-around finals..” Lisa Top explains, “It’s going to get suspenseful.” The women put the team results above everything, “The atmosphere within the team is good, we’re really going there as one team,” Lieke Wevers says, “Of course I am also going to try to get into the all-around finals, but well.. there is only one spot..”
Aside from the goal to place the team on a spot as high as possible in the top 8, the gymnasts of the Dutch team also have personal goals. Most of them are hoping for an individual spot on the all-around finals or apparatus finals, but some are even dreaming of a medal. And this is what those medals look like...
Celine van Gerner
“It’s my goal to perform complete routines. Then I will be satisfied and who knows, maybe I will reach a spot in the finals. I would really like that, but that is not the main goal of going to Baku.”
“As a team we’re just going to reach some nice results and obviously I am going to try for the all-around finals. Most of all I am trying to get everything out of myself that I can, then I will be satisfied. It would, of course, be nice if the reward to that would be a final on balance beam or floor, but that’s not the main goal.”
“I hope we will reach a good place with the team and then I will already be happy, but of course I would also like to reach the floor finals. Depending on the other participants of course, but I am going to try to get myself into the finals."
“My goal is to not make any mistakes and perform 4 fluent routines. Actually I don’t really know what to expect, because this is my first tournament. But it’s also the first time the EG are being organized so it’s new for everyone.”
“Aside from the goal we all have as a team, I also have a personal goal. That is to reach 3 final. Of course I want to reach the all-around finale, but aside from that also the ones on floor and vault. Maybe I even dream of medals on vault and floor, but those are not my primary goals.”
“In Baku I am going to apply what I learned in training and previous contests. Also in this contest I will gain more experience and learn new things which I can then apply again at other big events ahead.”
Sunday 14 june
Qualifications day 1 MAG and WAG sub 1 t/m 8 Day 1 team
Monday 15 june
Qualifications day 2 MAG and WAG sub 1 t/m 8 Day 2 team
Thursday 18 june
Individual allround final MAG en WAG
Saturday 20 june 13.00 h
Nominative lists of participants
Click here for the nominative list of the men Click here for the nominative list of the women
Some nice facts you can read through this link
Click here For the nominative list men
Click here for the nominative list women
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