2010 World team members Celine van Gerner and Anthony van Assche won the Dutch National championships held this weekend in Heerenven.
Van Gerner, who finished an impressive 10th in the all-around at the Rotterdam Worlds last October, edged World teammate Joy Goedkoop by three tenths of a point, 55.7-55.4. Wyomi Masela, who missed Worlds due to an injury, made a successful comeback to capture third place (51.95).
Van Gerner said she was pleased with her title, even though she did not compete her full difficulty on all events.
“That comes later in the year as we move toward the World Championships,” van Gerner told De Telegraaf newspaper. “There was less stress today because I didn’t have to do everything.”
Former Canadian standout Jessica Dowling, who won the Open Division at last month’s Canadian Championships, finished fourth overall. It was a breakthrough for 17-year-old Dowling, who debuted a double twisting double tuck off uneven bars at the Canadian Nationals.
Dowling should join a group of gymnasts vying to make the 2011 Dutch World team, which finished ninth in Rotterdam. Among the gymnasts in contention will be van Gerner, Goedkoop, Masela, Dowling, Mayra Kroonen, Sanne and Lieke Wevers (who finished sixth in Heerenven), Marlies Rijken, Yvette Moshage and Tess Moonen.
Still, it is a long road to Tokyo, National team coach Gerben Wiersma told the press after the meet.
“The national championship is the least important meet of the season,” Wiersma said. “If we are faced with unnecessary injuries, that affects the rest of the season. Therefore we are not pushing it.”
Reigning national champion Jeffrey Wammes opted to skip the competition, telling De Telegraaf he was focusing on the World Championships in October.
“The World Championship in Tokyo is much more important and I want to leave nothing to chance,” said Wammes, who did not earn a berth to the 2008 Olympics.
In the absence of Wammes and up-and-comer Bart Deurloo, van Assche, 22, captured the men’s all-around title (82.95) over newcomers Melvin Ornek (80.15) and Glenn Smink (79.4).
2011 European high bar champion Epke Zonderland did not compete all-around but won his marquee event, scoring 15.6 for his high-flying set.
Zonderland, who has been a two-event gymnast for the past few years (high bar and parallel bars), also showed routines on pommel horse and vault in Heerenven. He is likely preparing for the World Championships, where he will need to compete three events and win an individual medal in order to qualify as a specialist to the Olympic Games should the Dutch men not make the top 16 teams.
Note: The Dutch named a World team training squad that will depart for a 10-day training camp in Tokyo this week. The men are: van Assche, Ornek, Smink, Wammes, Deurloo, Zonderland, rings specialist Yuri van Gelder, Carlo van Minde, Kas van Weelden, Jorian Ilbrink, Arjen Butter, Jeffrey Telussa, Michel Bletterman and Bode van de Vries.
Photo gallery!: A photo gallery from event finals at the Dutch Championships, featuring Zonderland, Goedkoop and Dowling can be found here.
Newsreel: Here’s a well-done trove of video recaps from this year’s Dutch Championships from NOS Sport. Recaps include van Gerner’s full bar routine, and interviews with everybody.
Related: The Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation’s report from the competition can be found here.
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