The best of the Top Gym

The 2015 Top Gym Tournament was one of the most anticipated competitions of the year, since world class athletes like Russia’s Anastasia Ilyankova, USA’s Jordan Chiles and Ragan Smith and Belgium’s Nina Derwael and Axelle Klinckaert were all set to compete. Unfortunately, USA and Canada decided not to send their athletes to Belgium, given the current situation in the host country and other gymnasts did not get to compete due to injuries. However, despite the absence of some of the biggest names, there certainly were plenty of worth watching performances at the competition. So, let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Uliana Perebinosova (Russia) uneven bars and floor exercise

Uliana, who is born in 2001 and won’t turn senior until 2017, has plenty of work to do on the uneven bars. However, she already has some interesting elements, like a van leeuwen, a toe on full into a tkatcev, a full in dismount, and most importantly, a unique maloney + stalder half + ezhova combination.  She has a few legs separations during this routine, her body is quite loose and her tkatcev is quite low, but her toe on full finished right into a handstand and her ezhova was lovely. She is also promising on floor, where she performs lovely turns and shows great height during her double backs and clean form during her twists. She finished third in the All Around, on floor and on vault and besides a fall on balance beam, she had an excellent performance despite her lack of international experience. She will need to upgrade and clean up her routines if she wants to be competitive but hopefully, she will be able to do that.

Senna Deriks (Belgium) uneven bars, vault and floor exercise

Belgium has plenty of talented, Rio – eligible juniors who are determined to help their country qualify a full team into the Olympics and Senna is one of them. She has an excellent level of difficulty on the uneven bars. Her opening inbar 1/2 + endo 1/2 + komova + bail combination is fabulous and god, look at the height on her tkatcev and her full in. It certainly looks like she could do a Mustafina or even a Fabrichnova in the future. Once she cleans up her handstands she will be unstoppable. She unfortunately fell on balance beam, but her one-armed handstand makes her routine worth watching. She is also promising on vault, where she is capable of a lovely front pike half out. Her tumbling on floor (double pike, double tuck, 1.5 + front full) is not particularly hard, but just like most of her teammates, she has some interesting choreography and she finishes with a rather unusual ending pose. Senna won the silver in the All Around and on the uneven bars and the bronze on balance beam, so hopefully, this will be a good confidence boost for her.

Naomi Visser (Netherlands) floor exercise

It looks like the Dutch juniors are just as graceful and artistic as their senior teammates. Naomi has lovely lines and rhythm and this really is a beautiful routine for her. Her tumbling is not particularly difficult but she did an excellent job with it, sticking her opening double tuck and she showing beautiful form and height during her 2.5 twists. She did not challenge for any medals but she placed 8th in the All Around and showed some beautiful work. She was born in 2001 and I’m hoping to see her upgrading her routines for the 2016 Junior European championships.

Oréane Lechenault (France) floor

Oréane, who is eligible for the 2016 Olympics, is my new obsession. I live for her unique choreography on floor. She went for a completely different style and it definitely worked out for her. Her tumbling is just as strong as her dance, since she started her routine with a stuck double layout, and then, she performed a high double pike and a double tuck. She had a good competition in Belgium, finishing fourth in the All Around, on vault and on floor exercise and winning bronze on the uneven bars and silver on the balance beam.

Maellyse Brassat (Belgium) floor exercise

Maellyse shows some great potential on floor. She performed a double pike, 2.5 twists and a double tuck but she has plenty of time to upgrade, since she won’t turn senior until 2017. Her choreography is a bit more conventional than most of her teammates’ but it’s absolutely beautiful to watch.

Axelle Klinckaert, (Belgium) floor

When Axelle is set to compete, we just know that her floor will be one of the highlights of the meet. She already seems to be comfortable with her new double layout and she shows great power during her full in, her double tuck and her double pike. She is a great tumbler and a great performer. She sells her routine to the crowd, she smiles and it looks like she’s enjoying herself out there. She won the floor title at the competition, and I don’t think anyone is even remotely surprised. She also won the vault title and the All Around gold medal, becoming the first Belgian gymnast to do so. This is a fantastic end for a stunning season for Axelle, who will now focus on preparing for the Olympic year.

Angelina Simakova, (Russia) floor

Angelina Simakova, who was born in 2002, is one of Russia’s most promising rising stars. She performed an excellent floor routine, sticking a sky high full in and continuing with a gorgeous 2.5 + front layout combination, before finishing with a powerful double pike and a strong double tuck. We haven’t gotten videos of her performance on the other events yet, but she posted the highest score of the competition on vault (14.666) and she showed a 6.2 start value on balance beam, so she is definitely one to watch in the future.

Another highlight of the competition was Rio-eligible Alison Lepin from France, winning the uneven bars title with an impressive 14.466. Hopefully we will eventually get a video of her performance.

You can find the full results of the competition here

Photo credit: Belgian gymnastics facebook page

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