Full Teams Set for Belgium Friendly


The teams set to compete at the friendly meet this Sunday in Mouscron, Belgium have been finalized, and things are shaking up yet again for the poor Romanians.

Both Romania and Belgium are sending their full test event teams to compete, but Romania faces more changes after losing Larisa Iordache to a hand injury earlier this month. Both Ana Maria Ocolisan, who missed worlds in 2015 due to a last-minute injury sustained in training, and new senior Anda Butuc are now off the roster with Andreea Iridon and new senior Maria Holbura stepping up instead.

The remainder of the team is the same as the one announced two weeks ago, featuring Catalina Ponor and Diana Bulimar at the helm alongside Laura Jurca, Silvia Zarzu, and Dora Vulcan.

Romania seems to be in worse shape than ever, though many fans are sticking by them in support of what will be a tough fight for an Olympic bid. In the face of so many injuries and team changes, the road ahead is going to be a nail-biter, especially as their competition continues to step up their game. Both Ponor and Bulimar looked strong at Doha over the weekend, and Vulcan has decent routines, though with a fully healthy Romania, she wouldn’t be in the picture due to low start values. This weekend should shed light on how the rest of the women look in the weeks leading up to the test event, so we hope with Ponor’s guidance they’ll be able to come together and make it through.

Belgium, meanwhile, has also lost a crucial member due to a hand injury. Nina Derwael, who broke her hand while training on beam last week, will not be available for the friendly meet though she should be able to get back to full training soon and could still possibly contribute in Rio.

Without Derwael, Belgium will send the remaining eight members of their Olympic training squad to Mouscron, including Julie Croket, who was not named to the test event team as a competitor or alternate. In addition to Croket, the team will feature first-year seniors Axelle Klinckaert, Senna Deriks, and test event alternate Julie Meyers along with 2015 worlds finalist Rune Hermans, 2015 national champion Cindy Vandenhole, two-time worlds finalist Laura Waem, and two-time Olympian Gaelle Mys. Even with wounds of their own, this team has lots of potential, and could very well beat the Romanians, especially on home turf.

With the world cup happening in Cottbus at the same time as this meet, Germany will keep its top competitors at home, sending test event team members Leah Griesser, Pauline Tratz, and alternate Sarah Voss along with Maike Enderle, Amelie Foellinger, and Carina Kroell.

In addition to the three senior teams, Austria will send Elisa Hämmerle and Spain will send Ana Perez and Helena Bonilla as individuals. Hämmerle and Perez are both set to compete at the test event, while Bonilla, a first-year senior, hopes to contend for the spot left vacant by Roxana Popa’s recent knee injury.

The junior team competition will see the Belgian gymnasts Manon Muller, Alysha Senders, Myrthe Potoms, Maellyse Brassart, Chloe Leblicq, Rinke Santy, Oriane Jungers, Britt Vanneste, and Imke Wolthuizen against Romanian gymnasts Olivia Cimpian, Carmen Ghiciuc, Ioana Crisan, Alexandra Mihai, Denisa Golgota, and Alisia Botnaru.

The friendly event will be held April 3 in Mouscron, Belgium. For more information, visit our coverage guide.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

7 thoughts on “Full Teams Set for Belgium Friendly

  1. Romania has individual medal shots at rio with Iordache in all around, beam and floor assuming her training isn’t hindered by the injury or she doesn’t digress after her finger surgery, and Ponor on beam. Their team chances for rio are dead though. I think that even with a few complications in the lineup, they should somewhat easily qualify a team as long as they don’t fail bars the way they did at worlds considering iordache isn’t there to clean up any mess they make. However at the olympics, they need the other teams to seriously bomb the team final to pick up a medal, although this is a team that has surprised us time and time again. However, their current juniors are terrific. Cimpian, Crisan and Golgota are all terrific juniors that can definitely revive the team after Rio.


  2. Poor Romania. Injuries have plagued them last year and this year. It doesn’t look like they will be keeping up their medal streak any longer. Hopefully it will cause changes in their developmental programs for the future. After all Ponor isn’t going to be there forever…


  3. It worries me that Romania is sending Andreea Iridon after last years disappointing finish at worlds. She’s a good bar worker by Romanian standards and her beam work is stunning but she rarely hits in competition. I just want Romania to qualify a full team so Iordache, Ponor and Bulimar can contend for spots in individual finals.


  4. There’s a decent chance that Romania will qualify the team at test event but when it comes down to the main event, I just have a hard time seeing how it would be different from 2015, i.e, how they would be able to become a top 4 team as the only reliable ones that can be counted to hit 4/4 and have the needed D/E scores are just larisa and ponor. They do unfortunately will have to count on others mistake to slip into top 4


    • If they do make the team final in Rio I doubt that they will come away with a surprise bronze medal like they did in Beijing and London. Like you said before only Iordache and Ponor can put up competitive and consistent scores.


  5. Their streak has been amazing and Romania had really over achieved with their 2008 and 2012 team medals. They were strong mentally, and the horrible thing to see in Glasgow was how even that was slipping. I don’t blame them, the pressure really must have been immense and that’s my biggest concern for them going into the Test Event. I don’t expect Ponor to falter and maybe her presence will help the others. Hopefully. I feel like it’s such a different story for her though, I mean if the Romanian’s have a Glasgow Part 2 it’s not on her shoulders. Not really, she did her best right? It’s these young ones, I wonder if they feel like if it goes wrong it’s on them? Oh it’s just 40 years of Romanian gymnastics history – no pressure. When it’s clearly a bigger issue at play. I also wonder what the atmosphere in the training gym is like. Bulimar did well on floor at Doha, but I was honestly surprised when I saw her bars – the look on her face before she even mounted! Just total apprehension. It was one thing in Glasgow for them to crumble, but now in Doha? Well the friendly meet will hopefully tell us a bit more on that story because it wasn’t a good sign.

    I’d like to think if they do make it and then go onto Rio – they won’t be so focused on winning a medal. I say this because making it to Rio and then the TF is something in itself at this point. They are already likely at their maximum pressure point and it hasn’t helped. I’d like see them calm down, be positive and just do the best work they can do.Going from the desperation to qualify, to desperation to medal just doesn’t seem a solution to me. Maybe they will place 5th you know? Better than than not even have a team. It’s not about being complacent, it’s realizing desperation to fix the situation immediately is counter productive. I would hate to see them qualify to Rio and bring the same issues to team quals in the summer. Of course I’m saying this assuming that they have their ideal team(using what they have not dream world ideal). That’s a different story which may never happen so no need to discuss it unless it does.


    • Knowing Belu and Bitang, theyre probably pressuring them to medal, which has worked for them the last 40 years, but I don’t think it’s going to work this time. Romanian gymnastics is in the worst place it has ever been right now. They need to qualify a team if they want to leave Rio with any medals because if they don’t qualify at test event, then Iordache won’t go to the olympics. If they want to revive their current state they should focus on their juniors. Cimpian is excellent and has high difficulty across all 4 and has a nice flow to her bars work. Golgota is a really good powerhouse gymnast. Crisan has really good floor and beam work. And if Iridon and Jurca continue and become consistent and higher their difficulty then that gives them a good platform to rebuild their program. Ever since Athens their strategy has been to let their team deteriorate and then at the last minute bring back Belu, bring back old stars and somehow bring home medals. I almost want them to not get a team medal so that they learn that it’s just not going to work anymore.


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