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.
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