At the start of the World Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, it was already D-Day for the Belgian men’s team: after a change in vision and a lot of huge work in training, the gymnasts are aiming for a top-12 finish as a team and thus a ticket to the Olympic Games in Paris 2024: “We are not nervous, but they They feel: ‘Now we can show what we can do.'”
Self-confidence and motivation are huge among Belgian gymnasts. For some, this feeling is enhanced by a sense of revenge. Because missing Tokyo 2021 was painful. In the run-up to the World Cup in Stuttgart, the team remained in 18th place, well above the required 12th place, and no one had reached that level individually. It is difficult to step out of the shadow of the Belgian women’s national team, which excelled as a team at the Tokyo Games and won a historic individual gold with Drouille.
For the 2024 Paris Olympics, Belgian gymnastics has changed course. The guys worked hard on the need to raise the initial values in their equipment disciplines and improve stability in exercises, and also worked on the sum of all individual qualities to create the team with the best record. Luca van den Kebos, Noah Quavita and Maxime Gentjes were already reliable and experienced pawns in the current World Cup squad, but twins Glenn and Nicola Coyle, who have scored highly in the hoops, are making their first World Cup selection together. For an all-rounder like Victor Martinez, the verdict was harsh that he was just a reserve. To boost team spirit, the gymnasts have also taken weekend trips in recent months.
The standard is high, but today they have to show that they can put their Olympic goal into practice by securing a place among the top twelve teams. The major countries China, Japan and Great Britain have already secured the hosting of the games in the previous World Cup in Liverpool, and in this World Cup in Antwerp, countries such as America and Brazil will also be very big. Russia would normally be outside the category, but is not allowed to participate due to the invasion of Ukraine, so Belgium is one place ahead anyway. Our country considers itself strong enough to compete for a ticket to the Olympic Games with Germany, Spain, Netherlands, France and others.
Van den Kebos does not hesitate: “I think we have the best team ever. Since the World Cup is being held in our country, we have trained even more. The support of the public can only contribute to our achievements. We can say that we have all made the best preparations and are in good shape.” “We have also worked hard mentally. There is also a lot of work behind it from our coaches and management. We are not nervous, but we feel: ‘Let it happen now, so we can show what we have trained so hard for’. We are ready. I see things rosy.”
Van den Keybus has an all-around appearance, but he has worked hard on the pommel horse himself. After his collapse in the previous World Cup, he described this device as his “eternal enemy.” “In the past few months I have done a thousand exercises on the horse,” he says.
Maxime Gentjes has mastered the pommel horse well. At the European Championships held in Antalya in April this year, he won a historic silver medal as a Belgian. Kuavita once again became a horizontal bar specialist. He also feels at his best: “At the last World Cup in Liverpool I wasn’t quite fit. Now I’m the best ever. I got a high result at the start and I can mean a lot to the team. We have a strong team that complements each other well, and in Victor Martinez: We have an excellent reserve. I think there is a great chance of qualifying for Paris 2024, and I hope we can do that for both the men and women in the team.
‘Nina’s Angels’: These are the five gymnasts who will go for a ticket to the Olympic team (and thus they can help the injured Druel)
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss a thing from the stars.
“Subtly charming internet specialist. Avid writer. Friendly alcohol guru. Music ninja. Devoted social media fanatic.”