by Anna Rose Johnson

Belgium’s Nina Derwael has been a fan favorite for years, stunning audiences with her breathtaking uneven bars performances. She just missed qualifying to the 2016 Olympic uneven bars finals, but she returned to the sport to win a historic bronze medal for her country at the 2017 World Championships. In this Q&A, Nina tells us about her memorable bars routine, her goals, and a little more about herself:

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Inside Gymnastics: Could you tell us about your experience at 2017 Worlds?
Nina Derwael: It was a great experience. I had quite a good competition, and I was very pleased with the results.

Inside: What was it like to win a historic bronze medal on bars?
Nina: I was very, very happy with the bronze medal. We worked hard for that, to earn the medal at Worlds, and then to be there and to win the medal was really amazing.

Inside: How is your training going?
Nina: My training’s going pretty well; after Worlds we took like a week where we didn’t train that much, but now we’re training back to normal.

Inside: Are you working on any upgrades for 2018?
Nina: Yeah, I think on all the apparatuses there are some things I can upgrade. So we’re working really hard on that, especially on vault and floor, since those two are my weakest events.

Inside: What are your long-term gymnastics goals? Are you aiming for Tokyo 2020?
Nina: Right now I’m just aiming for Tokyo, and my main goal is to make a final and maybe win a medal. And then [I’m hoping to compete at] the upcoming Europeans and Worlds, to get great results like this year.

Inside: Could you tell us about the process of putting together your incredibly innovative bars routine?
Nina: It was I think a year ago, we [realized] that my bar routine was very long. It was difficult but it was way too long…We were thinking how we could shorten it up, but without having to let go of the difficulty. We tried a couple of things, but this was the [routine] that came together best, so…

Inside: What are some of your favorite competition memories?
Nina: I think one of my favorite memories is the [2016] Olympics; to have been there with the whole team; it was just an incredible competition. [And] of course the all-around final there, and the [2017] World bars finals. Just to be able to compete with these great gymnasts was a real honor.

Photos by Grace Chiu

Fun Facts about Nina

“It changes quite a bit, but I think I’m going to go with yellow.”

“That’s a difficult one, I’m stuck between Snapchat or Instagram, because these are the two I use the most. Snapchat is more to communicate with my friends rather than with fans or followers, so for friend stuff I’m going to go with Snapchat and for more fan-based stuff, I’m going to go with Instagram.”

“I have a little dog named Ella, and she recently [turned] one. She’s a toy poodle.”

“I love to just hang with friends, or go the mall, stuff like that.”

“My favorite apparatus is bars.”

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