Yesterday, we saw how two sisters have made it to Rio together. Today, it’s even more impressive: 24 year old Dutch identical twins Lieke and Sanne Wevers!
These siblings, trained by their dad Vincent, and both renowned for their graceful work on both bars and beam, headline a strong Dutch team that qualified to the Games by just grabbing the 8th automatic spot at the World Championships in 2015 away from Brazil and Australia. The Netherlands have built up a national programme which encourages more traditional, elegant gymnastics and high execution scores instead of the difficulty-driven routines of other nations, and it is beginning to pay dividends! At the Worlds, Sanne took a fantastic silver medal to become the second best beamworker in the world, whilst Lieke also put in a great beam performance in the team final and did really well to qualify for the floor final. This is especially impressive since Lieke was forced to miss a year of training in 2013 after double wrist surgery.
The Dutch routines showcase brilliant artistry and exquisite spins and leaps both on floor and beam: check out Sanne’s silver-winning routine here. Their manipulation of the current FIG code has roused some controversy, with beautiful dancer Eythora Thorsdottir (who has also made the Rio team) putting only two tumbles into her routine and replacing them with about 35 (but glorious) spins. Take a look here and here – do you prefer this sort of routine? Obviously, with lower start values, the girls are unlikely to contend for medals, although their grace on beam, if all skills are executed perfectly, might allow them to qualify for the apparatus finals: see, even in the training hall, the girls are super graceful! As a team, alongside 2012 Olympian Celine van Gerner and Vera van Pol, let’s see if they can better their eighth position finish.
The men’s team has also qualified to Rio for the first time since 1928 and are captained by star of London 2012 – High Bar Champ Epke “Wonderland” Zonderland – we all remember his routine with the crazily impressive triple releases! Skip to 19:02 to relive that moment. We really hope that their performance in Rio reflects their talent and all the hard work of their coach, Mitch Fenner, who sadly died last month.
Catch up with the stories of all the Dutch heroes via the Hard Way to Success’s youtube channel. Special mentions for Lisa Top and Noel van Klaveren who have missed out on selection due to recent injuries, and to Maartje Ruikes whose snapped achilles is the latest in a series of injuries that has really affected her career. It’s such a shame to see these talented and determined athletes not make it at the final hurdle 😦 but good luck to all those out in Rio!