Four Dutch gymnasts will begin the Olympic Games a year after an interview with Gerrit beltman turned the Dutch gymnastics scene upside down. Although it is uncertain whether the Sanne Wevers-led team can perform at its best, the new technical staff must ensure that Tokyo is peaceful.
Aimee Boorman doesn’t need a megaphone if she’s at the gym. “I know I’m quite loud. The 48-year old American laughs, “I can’t help but be loud. That’s my cheerleader.” “I have an extremely high energy level. Haha, I had to slow down in the Netherlands, as some gymnasts thought that Aimee should take it easy.
Over the past months, her high energy level and positive attitude have proved to be very useful. KNGU brought Boorman, the former coach of Simone Biles (the most successful gymnast ever), to the Netherlands in April to help the women’s team to the Games. This was after the Tokyo gymnastics association had banned personal coaches from traveling to Tokyo.
Vincent Wevers and Nico Zijp, Patrick Kiens, Wolther Kiens, and Wolther Kiens are all currently or were subject to an investigation by the Institute for Sports Judiciary, (ISR), regarding possible transgressive behavior. These investigations were initiated by Beltman in July 2020. Noordhollands DagbladHad confessed to physical and mental abuse of gymnasts.
Selection of Dutch gymnastics for Tokyo
- Women: Vera van Pol and Eythora Thorsdottir for Vera van Pol and Sanne Wevers (country competitions and individual).
- Men: Bart Deurloo for all-around and Epke Zoonderland for high bar
“There is no conflict between coaches and gymnasts.”
These revelations and accusations were particularly hard on former gymnasts, who also had to share their stories. They also disrupted Olympic squad preparations. Vincent Wevers has been ruled out of Tokyo after it became final for only three weeks, and after a legal battle.
“But despite the ups and downs, we are ready for this tournament,” says Bram van Bokhoven, who will coach the Dutch women at the Games together with Boorman and José van der Veen.
“Officially, it was hard work on the route that I had drawn out, but as a team we have always gone straight ahead. Although there was disappointment and pain among the athletes, they knew that we were there to help. “It is not an issue between staff and gymnasts.”
Tokyo: Gymnastics scheme
- July 24: Men’s Qualification
- July 25: Qualification for Women
- July 26: Final Men’s Nations Cup
- July 27: Finals of the Women’s Nations Cup
- July 28: The All-Around Men’s Final
- July 29: All-around final for women
- August 1, Gear Finals Men and Women
- August 2nd: Finals of Men’s & Women’s Gear
- August 3rd: Finals for Men’s & Women’s Gear
Thorsdottir: “This year has been so different.”
Eythora Thór was ninth in all-around at Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games. It was the Dutchman’s best ever performance. The 22-year-old gymnast will be back in Tokyo. She says that despite the difficult year, in which she had to deal with injuries, she is happy to finish in the top 24 of the qualification on Sunday and reach the all-around final.
Thorsdottir says, “Officially performance is important for top athletes, but this year has been so different.” “I think we can all be proud that we were there at all in Tokyo,” says Thorsdottir.
Rotterdam native Thorsdottir has trained with Kiens in the recent months. She will now have to train in Japan alone. Thorsdottir stated, “I made the switch in my brain a while back.” “It was difficult, but it is what I have to do. Aimee is very generous and can teach me a lot. If there is something I should know, I can always text Patrick.
Aimee Borman was Simone Biles’ coach for twelve years. In 2016, she won four Olympic golds.
Boorman stands up for a different philosophy
Boorman wasn’t just brought to the Netherlands due to her success with Biles. American Gymnast has been the focus of her philosophy throughout her career. There is no emphasis on obedience. Instead, she advocates “a healthy attitude towards coaching”.
Boorman was well aware of the many stories in the world of gymnastics before she arrived in the Netherlands. “But I wouldn’t have been here if I thought the Netherlands was hopeless in its treatment of its gymnasts.”
“I am impressed by the fact that gymnasts are more comfortable using their own voices, and that is what I consider to be the most important aspect of my philosophy. This was once a sport in which athletes felt they couldn’t or weren’t allowed to speak their mind. It is amazing to see that things are changing.
Boorman used her time in the Netherlands to develop a close relationship with the gymnasts. “These relationships are the most valuable. They have to get to know me before they can be on the Tokyo floor together. Because I want those women to have the best experience possible at the Games.