There’s two types of people in the world: number people and words people. Whereas I do like some numerical data and statistics to gaze at occasionally, there’s only so much result sheets can tell you about a competition. That’s why I’ll use the lingua franca to guide you through the Dutch-British gymnastics meet. Oh and don’t be surprised if you stumble upon some pictures as well, because we’re all image junkies – and because I call myself an amateur gymnastics photographer nowadays.
Me and my two companions were sitting right at the vault table, which made this apparatus a true spectacle. Lisa Top was the only one with a unique vault and execution, competing a handspring front tuck with full twist and sticking it. Kelly Simm and Ellie Downie went for a harder one, the Lopez. Kelly was deducted for a deep landing and both feet OOB, while Ellie’s vaults (Lopez+DTY) made every other vault fade in comparison. The one who came closest was Amy Tinkler. She earned silver for a powerful DTY with a big step backwards.
One difficulty level lower, Eythora Thorsdottir surprised with a 1.5TY, although her hyperextended knee scared the bejesus* out of gymfans and teammates alike. Two Brits, Ruby Harrold and Charlie Fellows, also attempted this vault and both just managed to get it around after struggling during warm-ups. Then there was a list of four girls-with full-twisting-yurchenkos-but-capable-of-more: Maartje Ruikes, Vera Van Pol, Noël Van Klaveren and Rebecca Tunney. Lieke Wevers isn’t included in that group, since she just seemed happy to survive her FTY.
The uneven bars brought some highs and lows for the girls. Lisa swung and caught her Gienger successfully and Lieke demonstrated how to do a Church to pak fluently. On the other hand, Noël ended up with an awful 10.650 after problems with a toe-on pirouette and a Church connected to pak. Eythora also had to count two falls, on a Van Leeuwen and a straddled Jaeger. She was in tears afterwards, but Celine Van Gerner comforted her and she got herself back together for the other three events.
Ellie and Kelly both hit their routines. (And Kelly’s new element again looked good!) From there on, the road gradually went downhill. Ruby spoiled the audience with her exciting routine and then shocked us when she sat down her double front tuck dismount. Claudia Fragapane bent her knees on a Church, yet still connected to a pak salto. Of course it looked like a sheep pak, though she miraculously kept her feet from the ground and kipped to handstand as if nothing had happened. Becky Downie caught the virus and bent her legs on a Shang (just like in 30-second warm-ups). Later on she fell on a Hindorff – and nonetheless scored 14.400, which gives you an indication of how phenomenal she is.
The beam was quite far away from the public, so my eyes were drawn to other apparatuses and consequently missed half of the action on beam. People on the gymternet often say that team GB needs to work on their consistency here, and they were proven right. Frags stuck her standing back full as if it was no big deal, but she had a lot of wobbles on her (seemingly) easier skills and put her hands down on the dismount. Becky spontaneously replaced her side aerial + LOSO combination with a side aerial + back handspring, though she approached the beam confidently in general. Kelly Simm’s new dismount caught my eye as well. ** She tried a half-in half-out that looked pretty good apart from the low landing. Luckily, Ellie was there to score 14+ for a steady routine with a reintroduced arabian and only one big wobble.
The Dutch team performed dramatically, with an average score of 12.183 as proof. I’ll give you two examples of how this is possible. Lieke lost two connections, then lost balance on her L-turn and her double turn, and finally had to put both hands on the beam after her side somi. Noël fell on her front tuck mount and couldn’t get it back together. She didn’t connect her side aerial to LOSO, wobbled on a leap combination, took some extra steps on a double turn and fell on her 2.5 twist dismount. Sigh.
The Dutch girls scored four points more on FX. It was the first time seeing Vera Van Pol compete on floor and I was quite impressed.*** Her tumbling passes consist of a double arabian, 2.5 twist + front tuck, 1.5 twist + full twist and a double tuck. My favourite routines are the ones from Lieke, Lisa and Eythora, because they’re all artistic in their own way and draw you in from start to finish.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I love the British routines any less. The top three all-arounders were throwing (and hitting) big skills as if they were already in Glasgow. Amy Tinkler has a solid double double and DLO, while Ellie Downie opened with a 1.5 twist to double arabian and went on with a double arabian piked. Kelly Simm stood out with a DLO, a whip to half-in half-out, and a 1.5 to double tuck. Conclusion: those girls can tumble.
As always, there were some highs and lows during the competition. But whether the gymnasts lived up to their potential or made numerous mistakes, they take this experience with them and they can learn from it. For the thousand people in the audience, it was a joy to watch them.
* Don’t look at me. It’s Irish.
** Is it just me or has she upgraded immensely during the past year?
*** With her bitchface as well. And I mean this in a good (!) way. Nastia and Mustafina would be proud.
**** She’s basically the Simone of Dutch gymnastics, always smiling and cheerful.