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  • Writer's pictureKensley Behel

Belgium's Best Performance at a European Gymnastics Championships.

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Belgium Gymnastics had never won a medal at the European Gymnastics Championships in men's artistic gymnastics. And following qualifications, it looked as though they might leave Antalya empty handed once more. Only Maxime Gentges managed to qualify to an event final, and he did so in the eighth and final place. With seemingly little chance at the podium, Gentges expressed his joy at making the pommel horse final in an Instagram Post.

He wrote, "I can’t believe it. I have been so many times so close that I can’t believe it really happened. Before the last gymnast I was first reserve on High Bar and 8th on Pommel. It would have been so hard to finish 1st reserve on both apparatus but I made it."

Little did he know that four days later, he would win Belgium's first European Gymnastics Medal in men's artistic gymnastics.

The Final

Rhys McCleneghan, reigning world pommel horse champion, began the final with a clean routine making major errors only on his Wu travel into triple russian.

Second to go was Belgium's Maxine Gentges. He performed a less difficult routine than McCleneghan, but also with fewer errors. With routine that highlights his extension (and only slight hesitation into the Busnari), he went into second place. Now, he only had to wait.

One by one each score came in below his. Some were because of low difficulty. Some were due to major errors. Then, it was time for Italy's Yumin Abbadini. The flair work on his routine is eye-catching; one might even assume it's one of the most difficult routines in the field. However, his relatively low difficulty score paired with skew and dismount errors meant that Gentges had just secured the first world medal for Belgium. Only one question remained: What color would that medal be?

Finally it was Illia Kovtun's turn. Kovtun is no stranger to the pommel horse podium, having picked up multiple medals at major international events since 2020. However, Kovtun's performance was not enough this time, and the podium was set.

  1. Rhys McCleneghan (IRL) - 14.666

  2. Maxime Gentges (BEL) - 14.566

  3. Artur Davtyan (ARM) - 14.266

Prior to this medal, Gentges' best international finish on pommel horse was 4th place at the 2017 Varna World Challenge Cup. Watch his Silver-medal winning performance below!

Article by: Kensley Behel


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