N. Derwael Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

N. Derwael Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Nina Derwael of Belgium takes home gold at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

With her victory in the uneven bars competition at the 2020 Olympics, Belgian gymnast Nina Derwael (21) brought home the country’s first gold medal.

N. Derwael Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

N. Derwael Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

The 21-year-old won the competition with a final score of 15,200 points, easily defeating his competitors (6.7 for difficulty, 8.5 for execution). Russia’s Anastasia Iliankova won silver with 14,833 points, and America’s Sunisa Lee came in third with 14,500.

With this victory, the young woman from Sint-Truiden brought Belgium’s total medal count to three in Tokyo, joining Wout van Aert’s silver in the cycling road race and Matthias Casse’s bronze in judo (-81 kg). For Team Belgium, this was the 16th time they had made it to the Top 8 in Tokyo.

As a result of her performance, Belgium won its first-ever gold medal in artistic gymnastics at any Olympic Games, its 41st Olympic medal overall, and its first gold medal in Olympic history.

Derwael did the planned workout since the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics, which had a difficulty level of 6.7. During the team qualifying round last Sunday, she scored a total of 15,366 points.

Her score of 15,400 at Tuesday’s team final was second best. The judges gave her 15,266 points in the finals of the individual competition for all categories on Thursday.

The Crowd Favourite, “Suni” Lee, lost in the finals.

The American, who won gold in the solo event on Thursday, placed third in the final with a score of 14,500 despite performing an exercise with a very easy difficulty level (6.2). Her scores of 15,200, 15,400, and 15,300 earlier in the week were mostly attributable to a more technically challenging routine that was marked at 6.8 on all days but the first, when it was graded at 6.6.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Nina Derwael had finished 12th on the uneven bars, not good enough to advance to the final (Top 8).

She first won the European title in the same competition in Cluj-Napoca, Romania in 2017, and then again in the same competition in Glasgow, Scotland in 2018. After earning bronze at the 2017 Pan Am Games in Montreal, she went on to win the global championship in Doha that same autumn.

While the world’s attention was focused on the emerging Coronavirus outbreak and the Tokyo Olympics, the star pupil of French instructors Marjorie Heuls and Yves Kieffer won a second world title in Stuttgart in October 2019.

Despite facing significant obstacles in her pursuit of Olympic gold in 2020 (three quarantines, including one due to a Coronavirus infection, an accusation levelled against her trainers for their behaviour towards other gymnasts, and Belgium’s withdrawal from the European championships in Turkey), she remains unfazed.

Halfway through the 2021 season, results were not Promising.

Her last major competition was in June at the Flanders International Team Challenge in Ghent, where she fell and injured her foot, adding insult to injury after having to withdraw from the European championships in Bâle at the last minute due to the coaches’ abusive behaviour being confirmed in an investigation report.


Three days before the Olympics, the team decided to forego a new addition and showcase one programme instead of another, sending the wrong message.

But Nina Derwael came through in Tokyo, and she got to taste victory despite all the warning signs.


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