Paris 2024 | Which Dutch gymnast could surprise with a medal? A preview

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Paris 2024 | Which Dutch gymnast could surprise with a medal? A preview

Father Wevers was suspended in 2020 for allegedly humiliating and creating an unsafe working environment. Wevers was acquitted on appeal two years ago and can now go to the Games with his two daughters. Sanne Wevers certainly has a chance of winning a medal in Paris.

What: Gymnastics
Where: Bercy Arena (Accor Arena)
When: July 27 – August 5
Where to see: Eurosport 1 & HBO Max
Dutch participants: Casimir Schmidt
Favorites: Simone Biles, Rebecca Andrade, Daiki Hashimoto, Ilia Kovtun

The Netherlands will be allowed to start in Paris with both a men’s and a women’s team. In Tokyo, only the women were qualified. Because there are two teams, there are many Dutch starting places. Even if a Dutch team does not reach the final, it is still positive because many more athletes got a chance to qualify for an individual final.

The teams qualified for the Games by being among the top eight unqualified countries at the World Championships in Antwerp last year. The men finished eleventh in the qualifications, while a place among the top 12 would have been enough. The women even reached the finals, where they finished seventh.

At first glance, the women’s team also seems to have a much better chance of reaching the final than the men. However, the women do suffer a major blow: Eythora Thorsdottir, the best Dutch all-round athlete, will miss the Games due to a broken ankle. Because Thorsdottir can come close to a top-8 ranking in almost all disciplines, the Netherlands will miss her points badly. Thorsdottir came sixth in the all-round at the last World Championships.

Much experience

The women start with relatively much experience. At 32, Sanne Wevers will be one of the oldest active gymnasts in the gymnastics hall. Naomi Visser was already in an Olympic team for the Netherlands, but got corona and was not allowed to go to Tokyo. Vera van Pol is also respectfully part of the ‘oldies’ at 30. Only Sanne Veerman has less experience, but she too was once in a World Championship final on the uneven bars.

The absolute leader of the team, especially with the withdrawal of Thorsdottir, is Naomi Visser. Visser has a great all-rounder in her legs: she once came fifth at the World Championships. She is among the world’s best, especially on the floor and the uneven bars. At the last two World Championships she was in the finals on those events. She has never won individual medals, but that could easily happen in Paris.

Paris 2024 | Which Dutch gymnast could surprise with a medal? A preview

Gymnastics – Tokyo 2020 – Olympic Highlights

If Visser qualifies for the final on the bridge, there are chances. In an Olympic final, there is sometimes a fall. If you can do a neat routine without big mistakes, you can go towards the medal places.

For Sanne Wevers, the tournament in Paris will probably be the last Games. The 2016 Olympic champion once stopped gymnastics, due to a bad atmosphere within the team. Now she is back with a goal: to win another medal on the balance beam.

Wevers will probably not be used on any other events: she only does the beam. It became clear last year that she has not forgotten the trick. She became European champion in Antalya and also reached a final at the World Championships.

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Rio 2016 | Sanne Wevers takes gold on balance beam

De Munck has medal chances

The Dutch men have fewer all-around top athletes. Only Casimir Schmidt will have a chance of a place among the best 24, so that he can compete in the individual final. Bart Deurloo hopes that he can start in the horizontal bar final, just like in Tokyo. Deurloo said goodbye to gymnastics last year, but has returned anyway so that he can compete in Paris.

The biggest contender for an individual final and a medal is Loran de Munck. The 25-year-old from Haarlem is a specialist on the vaulting horse. He won silver in that event at the European Championships in 2022. In that same year, he came sixth in the World Championship final. This year, just like two years ago, he won silver at the European Championships.

De Munck has one of the highest D-scores, that is score for the difficulty of the exercise, of the entire field. If De Munck performs his exercise well, he is always one of the contenders for a medal.

Biles wants revenge

Not only one of the greatest athletes in the gymnastics hall, but also far beyond. Simone Biles is one of the faces of these Games. The American has something to make up for in Paris. Biles had a very disappointing tournament in Tokyo when she seemed to suffer from ‘twisties’, difficulty making screws. The moment Biles stops halfway through the team competition is one of the most dramatic images in gymnastics. After the team competition, she withdrew from all competitions: she did not start in the all-around and the individual events.

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Tokyo 2020 | Is Simone Biles injured here or is something else going on?

After a two-year hiatus from professional gymnastics, Biles picked up gymnastics again last year. At the World Championships in Antwerp, she won four gold medals as usual. Biles could equal the Soviet Larisa Latynina at these Games, who won a total of 9 gold medals at the Olympics. Biles now has 4 gold medals.

At the Games, Biles hopes to show her own jump. Simone had hoped to show the ‘Biles II’, a yurchenko, which is landing on the pegasus via an arabian flip-flak, with a double backward piked salto, in Tokyo. But then she failed every time. With a difficulty level of 6.400, the jump is worth much more than any other jump.

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Tokyo 2020 | Biles with impossible jump in training

Gold for Ukraine?

Ukrainians hope that Ilia Kovtun will win gold in the Olympic all-around. The 20-year-old gymnast has been around the hall for years and has already won a medal in an all-around at a World Championship twice. The Ukrainian is great on the parallel bars, but is also good on the floor, the pommel horse and the horizontal bar. Kovtun certainly made some mistakes in his younger years, but that seems to happen less and less often. At the European Championships in Rimini this year, he won three gold medals.

It is striking that Kovtun has a female coach. In top gymnastics, male coaches are the norm for both men and women. His coach Irina Gorbacheva is one of the exceptions. During dangerous horizontal bar exercises, she jumps under Kovtun to catch him if he falls. He is an exception in that too. Almost no male gymnast lets a coach come onto the mat to soften a possible fall. For women, this is very common.

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Illia Kovtun cheers as Russia’s Ivan Kuliak stands on the podium with a ‘Z’

Photo: Twitter

Kovtun has not been to Ukraine since the war broke out in his country. A few months after the war broke out, he made headlines for standing next to a Russian gymnast who had the letter ‘Z’ on his leotard. The ‘Z’ is a propaganda symbol in the Russian war in Ukraine. The Russian athlete was suspended for a year. At the 2022 World Championships, Kovtun started wearing a shirt with the print ‘no war’. The FIG gymnastics association banned him from wearing the shirt again in a competition.

Kovtun seems to be the biggest contender to beat Daiki Hashimoto. The Japanese all-rounder is the reigning Olympic champion in the all-around. He also won gold on the horizontal bar in his home country. The only 22-year-old Japanese could overtake his great example Kohei Uchimura at these Games. Uchimura won Olympic gold three times in his gymnastics career.

Where are you looking?

Eurosport and HBO Max will broadcast the battle for gold, silver and bronze live during the Olympic Games of Paris 2024. Just like in Tokyo and Beijing, we will bring you all the matches in Paris live with a large team of experts and commentators, with all the emotions, reactions, analyses and backgrounds. Follow our new channel on Whatsapp already?

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