Looking back on Cluj with ... Nina Derwael (BEL)

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Looking back on Cluj with ... Nina Derwael (BEL)

May 15, 2017

By clinching the gold medal on uneven bars, Derwael wrote history, becoming the first ever Belgian European Champion in Artistic Gymnastics

Derwael was on a mission in Cluj: “The goal is definitely to leave Cluj with a medal’, the 17-year-old said before the bars final. After narrowly missing the bars final at the Rio Olympics –she was third reserve- Cluj provided an excellent opportunity for the motivated Derwael to shine.

She tied Germany’s Eli Seitz for the top score on bars after qualifications. “My qualifications went pretty well, there are only a few things I have to work better on, I made a little mistake on the floor, but apart from that I am pretty happy about everything. If it is a little mistake I do I forgive myself easily, but if it’s something that normally works excellent in training I’m like: why now? But in my mind I am very quick in putting myself together and moving on to the next thing.”

In the all-around final she placed seventh and told us: “Overall I’m pleased with my 7th place. Of course, just after a competition, you look back at the things that went wrong: like some minor mistakes on the beam, floor and uneven bars. But the latter motivates me a lot for tomorrow, when I will compete in the uneven bars-final. There I hope to get a medal, especially because I qualified as the number one.”

And she did exactly what she came for! With gold on her leotard, nails painted in gold and golden make-up, Derwael’s aim was not simply obtaining any colour of medal. She rocked her bars routine coolly and claimed Belgium’s first ever European title: “We are such a small country, but I was always told we can dream big and do big things. At the moment I can’t really believe that I actually won the gold medal. It definitely needs some time to sink in, before I’m aware of it. But obviously it’s a fantastic feeling!”

Belgian media went crazy for her after this feat. UEG caught up with the freshly-crowned Champion upon her return to Belgium.

UEG: How do you look back on your experiences during these Europeans? Do you realise what a historic moment your gold medal is? 

Derwael: The European Championships were a great experience for me and, looking back, I mainly think about that gold medal and what a special moment that was!

UEG: What impression did Romania and Cluj make on you? 

Derwael: Actually, we didn’t see much, only the bus [laughs]. The European Championships itself were very well organised. It was a pleasant event to compete in!

UEG: How were you welcomed upon arrival from Cluj?  

Derwael: Busy! When we arrived, 2 journalists immediately came towards me, from VRT and VTM [two Flemish-Belgian TV channels]. And a lot of photos were taken! After that we had to go immediately to [talkshow] Van Gils & Gasten where I was a guest. I never expected so many people to meet me at the airport! But it was a lot of fun.

UEG: What will you focus on now?

Derwael: Now I will mainly focus on the World Championships and there I want to show a good performance.  

UEG: How does your competition schedule for the coming months look like? What is your objective for Worlds? 

Derwael: In a few weeks, there is the Belgian Championships, then 2 weeks the Flanders International Team Challenge in Ghent and then we have two weeks holiday and then we begin the preparations for Worlds. There I hope to qualify for the bars final and maybe a medal. I also want to reach the all-around final and move up the ranking a few places. There will be a lot of competition but I am really looking for to it!


Thanks Nina! Good luck in Montreal!