In the packed Liverpool stadium, Loran de Munck had a medal on the line. Especially on the horse, the apparatus with which so many Dutch gymnasts have a love-hate relationship, De Munck showed his best side with a great exercise in his first World Cup final. He just worked towards the disassembly and the trick was there.
But then, seemingly out of nowhere, her arms folded into a handstand, she lost her balance and, anything but gracefully, fell off the machine. The result: a sixth place and almost no experience.
On the eve of a new tournament, the Eurocup in Antalya, De Munck candidly admits: Liverpool’s fall has been worrying him for a long time. “It keeps going around in your head for months. Even in my sleep. Then you wake up and that final replays in your dreams. It’s a shame what happened there. That jump should normally go well.”
The realization of the missed opportunity weighed heavily on the vault specialist, who had just experienced his international breakthrough in 2022 with European Championships silver. “I was just depressed and grinding in my head. You also start to think: what caused it? Was I out of shape? No, I was. So it doesn’t really make any sense to think of it that way.”
I have to stay calm, in my own bubble. That is the lesson I learned from my fall.
If you have to name a cause now, half a year after the World Cup, it is the lack of experience in such a big final. “There’s so much in it, the pressure. I underestimated it a bit, I think. The stress for the body. The World Cup was more loaded than the European Championships.”
“Well, there is a first time for everything. Now I can take that experience with me to the next competitions. Now I know what it’s like to be there. I have to keep calm, stay in my own bubble, not be too busy with the public and the chaos. That’s the lesson I learned.”
Antalya is blowing up
During the European Championships in Antalya, 23-year-old De Munck hopes to put what he has learned into practice. He travels to Türkiye with ambitions. He has expanded the range of him, which was already good for a high difficulty.
“The difficulty has been increased to 6.5. But at the same time it is easier in terms of energy. I took out an item, which was at the end, it was very long and required a lot of strength. Instead, a whole turn around one arm arrives at the beginning .”
With this adjustment, De Munck hopes to avoid a fall like Liverpool’s during the Eurocup and next year at the Olympic Games. Although it is important that the specialist arrives in Paris first. The easiest route, on paper, is with the team. That could be done with an Olympic ticket during the World Cup, this fall in Antwerp. But the team’s mission is in jeopardy.
In the run-up to the Euro Cup, two of the team’s strongholds, Jordi Hagenaar and Martijn de Veer, were injured. Hagenaar suffers from back problems, De Veer has a knee injury. Without the duo, achieving a top 13 ranking at the European Championships, required to participate in the World Cup, will be a difficult task.
“Until a few weeks ago I thought: that top 13 is achievable. But now it’s really a skinny team, to be honest. I still believe in that, but then we have to do gymnastics without problems.” If the team ends outside the top 13 during the European Championships, the Olympic dream will be shattered for the team and De Munck will have to switch to ‘plan B’.
“Those are the World Cups. The top two by device in the World Cup standings can go to the Games. But then I have to go through all those World Cups. I’ve never done that. I don’t want that scenario. It’s a very difficult feeling at the moment and an unpleasant situation to be in. I want to do everything I can to get to the Games with the team. If everyone stays motivated, it should work out.”