He says he is pleased that the TeamNL gymnasts can once again focus on the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but when asked whether he feels like training again, gymnast Vincent Wevers keeps his eye on the ground. “Real sense is another story”, he says on Thursday when he reports to SportQube in Nijmegen, where the KNGU has ordered the Dutch top gymnasts to train centrally for the time being.
It’s a strange situation in Nijmegen, where a restart has been made on Thursday with the top sports program of the Dutch gymnasts, which has been reformed by the gymnastics federation. Only Wevers is currently admitted as a trainer.
His club colleagues Nico Zijp, Wolther Kooistra, Patrick Kiens and Frank Louter, who also have top turnsters with an Olympic perspective, are not there. According to the KNGU, they have not yet received the green light from the Institute of Sports Law (ISR), which conducts research into cross-border behaviour by trainers in the gymnastics world.
Watch the interview with Vincent Wevers below:
“There’s an order in me,” says Wevers. “Based on the advice of the ISR, the KNGU has indicated that I may train the TeamNL gymnasts again. Another part of the order measure is that I am not allowed to talk about the case with members and former members of the KNGU”
Wevers plays a major role in the case of possible abuses in gymnastics. Turnbond KNGU ended TeamNL’s top sports programme at the end of July after various stories about cross-border behaviour by trainers in the past, including trainers who are still involved with TeamNL today. For example, Wevers himself was accused of using physical violence in the past, something he himself strongly denies.
The shock wave that followed the testimonies about abuses by the gymnastics world forced the board of the KNGU to stop the top sports programme. Last Tuesday, after almost five weeks, the federation suddenly came back from that. The solution was found in central training sessions in Nijmegen, where gymnasts can train with their desired trainer and where independent observers have to monitor the course of events.
“Not an ideal solution”, says Olympic champion Sanne Wevers, who has joined her sister Lieke, father Vincent and Naomi Visser in the gymnastics hall. “We had that ideal situation in Heerenveen, before it all erupted. In the end we are happy that we can get back to work, that we can move on”
At the presentation of the new plans, the KNGU admitted that pressure had been exerted by the top turnsters to come up with a solution as soon as possible. The gymnasts feared that their Olympic dream would be shattered.
Watch the interviews with Sanne and Lieke Wevers below:
“I didn’t play it that hard”, Wevers looks back on the past weeks. However, I have had many conversations, trying to explain our situation as a top athlete. We realise that the KNGU has been in a very difficult position. And it’s a pity that the image has arisen that we top turnsters would be diametrically opposed to the victims of the past. That’s not true. We all have the same goal: that our sport is safe.”
The Wevers sisters are happy that their father has been able to pick up his work again. According to technical director Mark Meijer, the fact that only Vincent Wevers currently has permission to train with members of TeamNL is due to the conditions set by the KNGU board.
“Turnsters should indicate with whom they want to train, sign an explanation and the Institute of Sports Law advises the union if that’s possible. In addition, we as KNGU retain the right to intervene if necessary”, says Meijer.
“In the case of Wevers, it has been indicated that he may pick up the training of the gymnasts in TeamNL. This does not yet apply to the other trainers”, Meijer explains the absence of the other trainers in Nijmegen.
When they are welcome, the technical director cannot say. “That’s up to the ISR. That is currently looking at all the reports that have been made recently. They can also be about these trainers.”
Watch the interview with Mark Meijer below: