A year after an interview with coach Gerrit Beltman turned the Dutch gymnastics world upside down, four Dutch gymnasts will start the Olympic Games on Sunday.

The completely new technical staff - including a top coach from the United States - must ensure peace in Tokyo, although it remains to be seen whether the team of leader Sanne Wevers can perform optimally.

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Aimee Boorman doesn't need a megaphone when she's in the gym.

"I know I'm pretty loud. I can't help it, that's the cheerleader in me," says the 48-year-old American with a laugh.

"I always have a high energy level. Ha, in the Netherlands I had to cut back a bit, because some gymnasts thought: wow, take it easy, Aimee."

That high energy level and her seemingly eternally positive attitude have come in handy over the past few months.

Boorman, former coach of the most successful gymnast of all time Simone Biles, was brought to the Netherlands by the KNGU in April to guide the women's team towards the Games.

That happened after the gymnastics association decided that no personal coaches were allowed to come to Tokyo.

Vincent Wevers, Nico Zijp, Patrick Kiens and Wolther Kooistra are currently or were the subject of an investigation at the Institute for Sports Law (ISR) into possible transgressive behaviour. These investigations were initiated after Beltman announced in July 2020 in the

Noordhollands Dagblad

that he physically and mentally abused.

Dutch gymnastics selection for Tokyo

  • Women: Vera van Pol, Eythora Thorsdottir, Sanne Wevers and Lieke Wevers (country competition and individual)

  • Men: Bart Deurloo (all-around) and Epke Zonderland (high bar)

'There is no issue between the gymnasts and coaches'

The revelations and accusations were especially hard on the former gymnasts who came forward to tell their stories, but they also disrupted the Olympic squad's preparations.

For example, it has only been final three weeks - and after a lawsuit - that Vincent Wevers will not go to Tokyo.

"But despite the ups and downs, we are ready for this tournament," says Bram van Bokhoven, who will coach the Dutch women at the Games together with Boorman and José van der Veen.

"Of course there was a lot of effort on the route that we had mapped out, but as a staff we have always gone straight ahead. Certainly, there was pain and disappointment with the athletes, but they also know that we are only there to help them. is not an issue between the gymnasts and the staff."

Schedule gymnastics in Tokyo

  • July 24: Men's Qualification

  • July 25: Women's Qualification

  • July 26: Final Nations Cup Men

  • July 27: Women's Nations Cup Finals

  • July 28: Men's all-around final

  • July 29: Women's all-around final

  • August 1: Men's and Women's Gear Finals

  • August 2: Men's and Women's Gear Finals

  • August 3: Men's and Women's Gear Finals

Thorsdottir: 'This has been such a different year'

Eythora Thorsdottir finished ninth in the all-around at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the best performance by a Dutchman ever.

The 22-year-old gymnast is back in Tokyo.

But after the tough year - in which she also had to deal with injuries - she says she will be happy if she finishes in the top 24 in the qualifications on Sunday and thus reaches the all-around final.

"Of course performance is important for a top athlete, but this has been such a different year," says Thorsdottir.

"I think we as a team can be very proud to be there at all in Tokyo."

The Rotterdam native has usually trained under Kiens in recent months, but will have to do it in Japan without her own coach.

"I made that switch in my head a while ago," said Thorsdottir.

"That was difficult, but I do it what I have to do it. I can learn a lot from Aimee, she is very benevolent. And if there is really something, I can always text Patrick."

Aimee Boorman coached Simone Biles for twelve years and saw her win four Olympic golds in 2016.

Aimee Boorman coached Simone Biles for twelve years and saw her win four Olympic golds in 2016.

Photo: ANP

Boorman stands for a different philosophy

Boorman was not only brought to the Netherlands because of her successes with Biles.

The American has been promoting a philosophy in which the gymnast is central throughout her career.

No emphasis on obedience, but "a healthy attitude in coaching", as she calls it.

Before she came to the Netherlands, Boorman was of course aware of all the stories that had come out in the gymnastics world.

"But if I had thought that the Netherlands had no hope in the treatment of its gymnasts, I would not have been here now."

"I see that gymnasts are increasingly using their own voice and that is the most important part of my philosophy. In the past, this was a sport where the athletes felt that they could not or were not allowed to say anything. It is wonderful that that is now changing. "

Boorman mainly used her months in the Netherlands to build up a personal relationship with the gymnasts.

"Those relationships are the most important. When we are on the floor together in Tokyo, they have to know me and I know them. Because my goal is that those women will have the best possible experience at the Games."

See also: View the full program at the Olympics