Following two selection competitions held in Rotterdam this month, the Dutch gymnastics federation named the four women who will represent the Netherlands at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, including 2016 teammates Eythora Thorsdottir, Vera van Pol, Lieke Wevers, and reigning beam champion Sanne Wevers.
In the end, the selection committee went with experience and individual potential over what was best for the team, especially with the inclusion of Sanne Wevers, who will contribute on only two events, including beam, where she has looked strong in the trial competitions (though not at her 2016 potential), and bars, where she earned just a 9.833 and an 11.275 at the two Rotterdam meets.
Essentially, she’s going because they expect she’ll be a contender in the beam final, with the ability to contribute on beam for the team basically just a bonus. In this team configuration, it’s hard to justify someone who maybe could make one individual final, but given that it’s the reigning Olympic beam champion we’re talking about, it’s also hard to justify leaving someone like that at home. On the numbers alone, she wouldn’t have made my team, but I understand why the Dutch program prioritized her, especially when the team doesn’t look likely to make the team final regardless of who else would go in Wevers’ place.
Van Pol and Thorsdottir finished first and second at the latest trial, but Thorsdottir didn’t compete at the first trial, while van Pol finished sixth there. Lieke Wevers, meanwhile finished fourth at the second trial, and second at the first trial. The two others in most serious contention were Naomi Visser, who was third at both trials, and Elisabeth Geurts, who won the first trial, but bombed bars in the most recent meet, finishing eighth.
I don’t know if I entirely understand the selection process, because the all-around rankings were all over the place, and no one stood out so much on any single event that it made the process difficult, to say the least, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the selection committee just ended up going with the experienced 2016 Olympians over anyone else.
The problem is that no one was consistent between the two meets, so an already tricky team situation with so many athletes at more or less the same level was made even more difficult as no one hit at a hundred percent. Going by sheer all-around ranking alone when combining scores from the competitions, you’d get van Pol, Thorsdottir, and Geurts, and as a plus, Geurts won vault by a significant margin at both meets, yet Wevers – while weaker than those three and scoring lower overall – competed similarly between the two.
If you go by combined totals, van Pol and Wevers come out on top, so I assume that’s actually what determined the team, and then Thorsdottir got the third spot for being the most well-rounded competitor with the highest all-around scoring potential.
The men did not qualify a full team to the Games this year, though the program qualified two individuals, with Bart Deurloo making it via the all-around competition at world championships in 2019 while Epke Zonderland qualified on high bar through the world cup series.
Article by Lauren Hopkins