After a dramatic, drawn-out selection process, the Netherlands' 2012 Olympians will be Céline van Gerner and Epke Zonderland, the KNGU announced Wednesday.
Céline van Gerner and Epke Zonderland officially have earned the Netherlands' only berths for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation announced Wednesday.
Van Gerner and Zonderland both proved themselves in spring competitions, capped off with golden performances at this past weekend's Ghent Challenger Cup, the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation (KNGU) stated. The federation emphasized its decision was to put forth the gymnasts with the best chances of winning medals in London.
The announcement leaves Jeffrey Wammes and Wyomi Masela as disappointed alternates after the dramatic, drawn-out selection process, which saw van Gerner and Wammes take their cases to court.
The Dutch failed to qualify full teams to the Olympic Games for either men or women. The women finished 13th at the 2011 Worlds, advancing along with teams ranked ninth to 16th to the second qualification event in January. The Dutch men finished 19th at the 2011 World Championships, leaving the possibility for an individual to earn his own spot to London at the January test event. However, an ankle injury forced van Gerner out of the test event, though she was the top gymnast for the Netherlands in Tokyo in 17th all-around.
Epke Zonderland (Netherlands)
The top four countries at the January event earned full team berths to the Olympics, joining the teams that placed first through eighth in Tokyo. The Dutch women finished a last-placed eighth in London, giving them the right to send only one gymnast to the Olympics, regardless if she competed at the test event. Wammes and Zonderland both scored within the all-around range needed to qualify as individuals, but the rules stated that each nation that did not qualify a full team is only able to send one gymnast.
On Feb. 2, the KNGU announced its 2012 Olympians would be Zonderland, the 2010 world silver medalist on high bar, and Masela, the bronze medalist on vault at the test event. Wammes brought suit first, accusing the federation of rush judgment and asking the decision be made following the spring events, including the European championships and FIG Cups. A judge agreed, suspending the federation's nomination. Van Gerner filed a similar suit — stating she deserved more time to recover from her ankle surgery — and was granted the same judgment in her favor.
The court rulings set the stage for the spring events, pitting the Dutch gymnasts against each other. At the European championships in May, van Gerner placed fifth on uneven bars and Masela was sixth in the vault final. Zonderland, a 2008 Olympian, struggled in qualification at the European championships, failing to reach any finals. Wammes, whose best event is vault, likewise did not advance to any finals.
Van Gerner won uneven bars and balance beam at the FIG Challenger Cup held June 2-3 in Maribor, and won uneven bars on Sunday in Ghent. The federation noted that van Gerner's 14.950 score in Ghent would have been enough for the bronze medal on the event in Tokyo. Zonderland, likewise, posted world-class scores of 16.400 for the gold medal on high bar and 15.800 for the silver medal on parallel bars.
"As with the choices made on Feb. 2, it is the opinion of the members of the selection committee that when making our selection, we look at who has the biggest medal chance," the KNGU stated.
Both Masela and Wammes suffered knee injuries in Maribor, forcing them out of the Ghent competition. They will serve as alternates in case either Zonderland or van Gerner are unable to compete.
"For Wyomi to be unable to participate in the Olympics after her initial selection is undoubtedly a huge disappointment," the KNGU acknowledged. "The KNGU has respect for its commitment to - like Jeffrey - keep her as the alternate."
External Link: Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation