The Dutch stole the hearts of the universe at worlds last year en route to their historic 8th-place finish, a performance marked by a cavalcade of tropical-bird, exotic-fish, and mythical-beast similes. Mostly by me. The Netherlands came to Glasgow relatively unheralded and left as the categorical sigil-bearers of artistry in modern gymnastics.
That performance, in which the Dutch absolutely overshot expectations, has heaped a hefty amount of “team final or bust” onto an Olympic squad that normally would have been in “good job finishing 10th” territory. It’s worth mentioning that the Netherlands needed massive assistance to get into that team final in the first place. It took a Brazilian meltdown and those fractured Romanian walls finally crashing to the ground, and if even one of those things hadn’t happened, the Netherlands would probably be considered in that France-Belgium tier of teams here, for whom we have some lovely parting gifts.
Of course, team final could happen again. This team is certainly talented enough and close enough to those borderline top-8 countries that it wouldn’t take much for Netherlands to sneak in again and certainly wouldn’t require the total meltdowns it did last time. The Dutch scores from the last couple domestic trials are right up toward that 174 territory with Japan and Canada, two teams that seem to be in stronger stead, so a repeat of those performances would make this team look very TF indeed. I’d say it’s more than possible, but not the most likely scenario.
Eythora Thorsdottir – 2016 Dutch champion, 2015 Worlds beam 8th place, more important than you in every way, a light in the storm, a true performer
Celine Van Gerner – 2016 Dutch silver, 2012 Olympian, the old hand of the group, here to provide that competitively sturdy third or fourth routine NED lacked last year
Vera Van Pol – 2015-2016 Dutch vault champion, necessary Y1.5, surprise team member over Tisha Volleman, provides four-event reinforcements
Lieke Wevers – 2015 Worlds 13th (qualified in 5th), obvious dream on beam and glorious floor performer, utter cleanliness on all pieces
Sanne Wevers – 2015 Worlds beam silver, totally invented beam spins, because she has all of them, like seriously all of them, she is impossible
Projected Olympic Lineups
Vault – (L Wevers), Van Gerner, Van Pol, Thorsdottir
Bars?? – (L Wevers) Thorsdottir, S Wevers, Van Gerner
Beam – (Van Gerner) Thorsdottir, L Wevers, S Wevers
Floor – (Van Pol) L Wevers, Van Gerner, Thorsdottir
Netherlands’ all-around assignments are pretty obvious since Sanne Wevers doesn’t do vault and floor, and Van Pol is the weakest of the group on beam. I also have Van Pol off bars because she’s already off beam, and even though her bars routine is the real deal (including a hop full + tkatchev + pak), it’s not a reliable score. That can be said for pretty much the entire Dutch bars lineup, though which could end up being pretty much any combination of the five on this team in any order. So, I just ranked them in order of top trials score. Who’s not going to be a beautiful disaster today? Great, you’re in.
That leaves Thorsdottir, Lieke Wevers, and Van Gerner in the all-around, another particularly interesting showdown. The Netherlands will be going at the same time as the US again this year, so while you’re immersed in all the US AA dramatics, don’t forget to pop above water to check out Netherlands’ similarly poised affair. Continue reading Olympic Preview — Team Netherlands