Netherlands vs Great Britain friendly meet

The British and the Dutch women had a great opportunity to show off their routines and prove that they deserve a ticket to Glasgow at the recent Netherlands vs Great Britain friendly meet. The competition was far from perfect and most of the surprises we saw were not pleasant ones. However, we got to see some beautiful routines, full of difficult elements, unique combinations and fantastic artistry.

First year senior, Ellie Downie, who wrote history by becoming the first British gymnast to ever win a European all around medal earlier this year, continued to impress by winning the All Around title with a very respectable 57.750. She really was the star of the competition, showing fantastic difficulty and consistency on all four events. She upgraded her second vault to a Lopez and her execution during that skill was so clean that it could rival Simone Biles’. She really got fabulous height and distance and kept her body completely straight before only having a tiny hop on the landing. She also managed to post the highest score of the competition, on what used to be her weakest event, the uneven bars. She has shown fantastic improvement on this apparatus, where she also made the event finals at the European championships and she managed to hit her routine when others didn’t and she was rewarded for that. On balance beam, she brought back her standing arabian, which she hasn’t performed in any other major competition during 2015 and she nailed her front tuck + wolf jump, switch leap + switch half and 2.5 dismount for a 14.200. She also started her floor routine with an upgraded tumbling pass: an 1.5 step out into a double arabian and she controlled it beautifully. Her second pass was an explosive and nearly stuck Dos Santos that got a bit applause from the crowd. Ellie did not only win the All Around title by 1.5 over her teammate Amy Tinkler but she also posted the highest score on every single event (on floor she was tied with Tinkler for first) and she proved that at least for the time being, she is the country’s best gymnast.

English and British national champion Amy Tinkler won the silver medal behind her teammate. On vault, she performed a powerful double twisting yurchenko with one big step on the landing. Amy only perform a yurchenko full at the recent British team championships, probably because she was saving herself for worlds, so it’s great to see that she is still capable of landing the double without any trouble. She posted solid scores on bars and beam, and then, she had one of the most impressive routines of the day on floor. Her first tumbling pass was a brand new double double and she stuck it cold before also nailing her double layout and her 1.5 + 2.5 combination. Tinkler has also performed a full twisting double layout in the past so she definitely has the potential to have a very competitive start value in the future. I will definitely miss her old choreography, but the new one is also enjoyable to watch and I’m sure it will grow on me. She tied Ellie Downie for the first place position on this event and also placed second on vault, proving that she is a reliable athlete who deserves a ticket to Glasgow (not that anyone ever doubted that)

Great Britain swept the All Around podium, since the bronze medal went to Universiade All Around champion, Kelly Simm. The 2014 world team member has been showing very impressive skills and upgrades throughout the year, but she wasn’t always capable of performing them well during competition. This time, she had some ups and downs. She only scored a 13.3 on vault, which has been one of her best event, and she had problems on beam, where she only received a 12.7. However, she finally hit her bars routine and earned the second highest score of the day on this event with a very respectable 14.450. She has clearly been working extremely hard to get a new routine and it’s great to see she’s finally getting it consistent. Kelly also showed some of the most difficult tumbling of the competition on floor, where she performed a double layout, a spectacular whip + full in combination and a low 1.5 + double tuck. Unfortunately, she was heavily penalized for her form errors and her low landings but she has massive potential on this event.

Ruby Harrold, who is now a veteran on the British team, finished forth in the All Around. Harrold is coming back from an injury, she is not 100% back yet and this is obvious on her scores. She doesn’t have her DTY back and she vaulted a rather short yurchenko 1.5 and took a couple of steps backwards. She was having an excellent routine on her best event, the uneven bars, showing great amplitude during her spectacular combinations and getting a great reaction from the crowd but then, she sat down her double front dismount. That was obviously very unfortunate, but her routine was certainly an improvement from the one she performed at Osijek. Her handstands were better, her flight elements were higher and her toe on full looked better than ever. Hopefully, during the next three weeks she will have enough time to work on her endurance and she will nail this routine at Glasgow. She recovered well from that mistake and she performed an energetic floor routine which included a solid double arabian, a double front twist, an 1.5 + front full combination and a double tuck.

Netherland’s top two All Arounders, Lieke Wever and Eythora Thorsdottir tied for the fifth position with a score of 53.250 after having some major problems. Lieke, who was one of the biggest stars of the European Games had a solid full twisting yurhcneko without tons of height and distance. She was only vaulting a yurchenko layout until before Baku, so it’s good to see her upgrading on this event. She also upgraded her ray into a church on bars and she connected it into a clean pak salto. She had great flight during her maloney + bail, but then she fell on her toe on full. Besides the fall, her routine was absolutely gorgeous and she has beautiful lines and technique so hopefully she will be able to perform better in the future. She also struggled on balance beam, where she didn’t have a flight series, she wobbled after her turns and she touched the apparatus after her side somi. The fight she showed to stay on was very impressive, but at the end all those deductions added up and she only scored a 12.7. Her floor was as beautiful and graceful as ever but she only did a double full as her second (and last) tumbling run. I’m not sure if that was intentional or if something just went wrong in the air, but I hope she brings her 2.5 back for worlds. I could watch her all day long on floor, but if she only does two tumbling passes they need to be at least D rated elements.

Fan favorite Eythora Thorsdottir started her competition with a disappointing bars routine. She wasn’t even close to catching her van leeuwen and then, she also fell on her jaeger, scoring only 11.650. Thankfully, she was able to put that behind her and hit her routines on the remaining events. Her beam was far from perfect. She had major balance checks, she missed connections and she did not look very confident up there but she managed to stay on. I loved how she performed her new opening combination (split jump + side aerial + korbut) right into her low to beam choreography and her turns combination was stunning to watch. Then, she took the floor, and it felt like all her previous mistakes simply didn’t matter. I would normally complain about the fact that she only does two tumbling passes in her routine, especially because, unlike Lieke, she’s actually a decent tumbler, but I’m too mesmerized by this routine to say anything even remotely negative. She’s just poetry in motion, her body flows like water, and her smile is contagious. Words are not enough to describe the beauty of her routine and her stuck triple full and the perfect semenova + illusion turn combination were absolutely fabulous, She finished her competition with an upgraded vault, a yurchenko 1.5, and it wasn’t a great one. She barely got it around and had a rough landing that looked rather painful. I definitely hope Eythora upgrades vault so she can be more competitive in the All Around, but for the time being she’s too precious to be landing skills like that.

New senior Tisha Volleman finished in the sixth place after a succesful competition. She is still building her difficulty, but she shows some great potential for the future. Her full twisting yurchenko on vault is short and piked down and she doesn’t have a high start value on bars but she had some interesting work on beam and floor. Her flight series on beam are a front handpsring into a front tuck from an one foot take off and she also performed a lovely double turn before attempting a Steingruber dismount. She is a strong tumbler, capable of a tucked full in and a triple twist on floor, where she also showed beautiful choreography. With Celine Van Gerner being injured and Noel Van Klaveren struggling, Tisha was named to the worlds team, so it will be interesting to see how she handles the biggest opportunity of her career.

Vera Van Pol, who finished in seventh place, had a strong bars routine, which included a maloney + bail combination, a high jaeger and a spectacular and unique hop full + double arabian dismount. She started her floor routine with a sky high double arabian and she continued with an effortless 2.5 twists + front tuck combination but then, she landed her 1.5 + front full combination short and bounced out of her double tuck. She performed her full twisting yurchenko for a solid 13.6 but she struggled on balance beam, where she only scored an 11.2. Despite those problems, she’s quite a lovely gymnast with some impressive skills and I’m always excited to watch her perform

European Games medalist Lisa Top had some ups and downs during the competition. She only scored in the 11s on both beam and bars, after missing her toe on full on the second event, but she was absolutely great on her two best events. On vault, she stuck cold her front handpsring tucked full and received a big applause from the crowd and her teammates. Then, she nailed her floor routine, showing excellent control during her double front, 1.5 + front full and double tuck. I have to say I’m quite disappointed not to see her excellent Dos Santos but hopefully she will compete it again at some point. She only performs three tumbling passes now, which is rather surprising considering that she didn’t struggle with endurance in the past and she tumbles better than she dances.

Maartje Ruikes also had a rough day since she had several form breaks and a big step on the dismount during uneven bars and two falls on floor exercise while Rebecca Tunney landed her tucked full in and whip + double tuck on floor. Claudia Fragapane, who is still coming back from an injury only competed bars and beam and unfortunately, she didn’t deliver on neither of those events. She attempted a church + pak combination on bars, but she had to tuck her church and her pak was similar to Shelgunova’s so this didn’t go as planned. She is so important for team GB on both vault and floor so we can only hope she will be ready to compete on these events at worlds. The lovely Noel Van Klaveren only vaulter a yurchenko full and fell on her weakest event, the uneven bars. Then, she had a scary fall on her 2.5 dismount after a shaky beam routine. Thankfully, she got her redemption on floor, where she showed a fabulous double layout, a triple full and great artistry and presentation but that wasn’t enough to earn her a ticket to Glasgow. First year senior Mara Titarsolej is unfortunately struggling with injuries and she was only able to compete on bars, where she only did a simple layout dismount.

Becky Downie revealed a very ambitious bars set that could potentially have a massive start value, but she unfortunately fell on her maloney + hindorff combination. I absolutely love Becky’s work on this event and I admire her so much for everything she has done for British gymnastics, but having three variations of the same skill in your routine seems a bit excessive. Downie also proved that herself on balance beam, where she posted the third highest score of the competition. She only performed a back handspring out of her side aerial instead of a layout step out and she missed one connection so her start value was a couple of tenths lower than she would have hoped. There were a couple of balance checks and she landed her dismount low but she stayed on the apparatus and showed impressive difficulty and clean execution.

We’d by lying if we didn’t admit that this competition was messy, but this is the whole point of the pre worlds meets. You go out there, you try out your routines and you go home knowing what you need to work on. Both teams certainly showed plenty of potential and now, they have about three weeks to make sure they won’t repeat any of the mistakes we saw this weekend.

Shortly after the competition, Netherland’s world team was announced. The country will be represented by Lisa Top, Eythora Thorsdottir, Mara Titarsolej, Vera van Pol, Tisha Volleman and Lieke and Sanne Wevers

You can find full results here

The photo is from Becky Downie’s twitter

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