Sanne Wevers team controversy

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She and Vera Van Pol got into an argument and it got very heated.
They went through a mediation process and it didn’t solve anything.
Sanne was asked to leave the national team as a result.
Curious to see where this takes her because she really can’t continue to compete if she isn’t allowed on the national team.
Gymnast Sanne Wevers is not available for the Dutch gymnastics team for the time being. The 2016 Olympic champion on beam withdrew due to an unsafe sports climate within the selection.

"It is with great pain in my heart that I have indicated to the KNGU today that I am immediately leaving the national selection. Due to the behavior of a teammate, a persistent unworkable situation has arisen for me. As a result, I can no longer function properly within our team " the top gymnast writes in a statement.


Wevers does not want to go into detail about what exactly is going on within the Dutch selection, but the new technical director of the gymnastics association Jeroen van Leeuwen confirms that there is a conflict within the team between Wevers and Vera van Pol, who broke out of school in December about the contents of a confidential conversation.

Van Pol received an official warning from the then technical director Mark Meijer. He has since been succeeded by Van Leeuwen.

“Over the past six months, I have done everything I can to change this situation. Unfortunately, this has not been possible due to the lack of direction from the KNGU. I am therefore extremely disappointed in the KNGU,” writes Sanne Wevers.



Emotional Weavers about decision to stop: ‘Want to get out of this situation and enjoy’

“It has been going on for a while. I have done everything I can to restore confidence in my teammate and in the work situation. But she does not cooperate with this. I am really angry about that, but above all very disappointed,” says a visibly emotional Weavers.

“I have always been there for her and the team. She makes me choke. I find it unbelievable that the KNGU is not doing anything to rectify the situation. I have tried just about everything to solve this.”

‘Extremely painful’​

And so the 30-year-old Wevers has the feeling that she can make no other decision. “These are not the standards and values I stand for and this is not a healthy top sports environment for me. It is of course extremely painful that I had to take this decision after 18 years of gymnastics at top level,” says Wevers.

"In concrete terms, this means that I am now stepping out of the national selection, but this does not mean that I will stop as an athlete. I will use the coming period to investigate how I will fill in my future. "

The gymnast emphasizes that her father Vincent Wevers’ experiences with the gymnastics association did not influence her decision.

Various complaints against the coach for transgressive behavior were submitted to the Institute for Sports Judiciary, but the disciplinary committee of that body recently acquitted him.

Vincent Wevers tried to enforce a place in the coaching staff for the Olympic Games through summary proceedings last year, but lost that fight with the KNGU on appeal.
Rumor has it that Sanne retaliated against Vera due to Vera coming forward with a complaint against her father, Vincent as one of the national team coaches. Vera then went back to the KNGU (NED gymnastics federation) to file a complaint against Sanne.
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I wonder if what she means by it not being the end of her career is that she, and possibly her father too, are looking at other citizenship opportunities. There would be many nations looking to develop a WAG programme who would want Sanne, and Vincent as a coach
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I was thinking the same thing. Luxembourg came to mind immediately to be honest. It is close by to Netherlands (by close by in about 4 hours drive).

Though Sanne is 30 years old, which doesn’t mean anything these days considering Chusovitina is headed towards a 9th Olympics.

Or that she still plans to train and trial for various Netherlands assignments like Worlds, she just won’t be with the national team and their camps. I don’t know how that would work as I don’t see KNGU going for that.
And I would think she could be approved virtually immediately to compete for another nation, since her own isn’t allowing her to participate in their national team?

She could be a beam specialist for quite a while longer, even at her age. And after that a high level beam coach for a nation in need.
And I would think she could be approved virtually immediately to compete for another nation, since her own isn’t allowing her to participate in their national team?
Technically, Sanne left the team on her own decision and not with an official decision of KNGU. She wrote a statement that she is leaving the national team due to an “unworkable situation”.

So not sure what would happen with the FIG.

That just sounds like a completely impossible situation all round though. If you have one gymnast complaining about the father of another gymnast who’s standing by her dad, it would take the wisdom of Solomon to keep an even keel within the team. I can’t even begin to think how that could be successfully managed.
Nothing on Lieke yet either, which makes me super curious as to her whereabouts and plans to continue.
Google translation of the interview (17-12-2021, with Vera: (it’s not a perfect translation)

The pain behind Vera van Pol’s Olympic dream: "I cried so much, the past year and a half has been terrible"
Jimmy Leenders and Tom Van Der Wilt

She has been part of the Dutch team for nine years and was twice in the Olympics. Gymnastics is her passion and her life, but from the moment the bomb burst in the gymnastics world last year, Vera van Pol (28, Tungelroy) went through a turbulent time. “I was sitting there crying in my hotel room.”

It is on the plane from Tokyo to Amsterdam, now a few months ago, that she decides to grab her phone. She’s been in the air for more than eleven hours, so plenty of time to kill. Time enough to sort everything out. She writes down the balance of an extremely turbulent period. What happened and above all, more importantly, what triggered it all. “It was very relieved,” she recalls.

She will refer to the notes later. To also offer others a look into her heart, sometimes to their shock. The gymnastics world, her world since a young age, is completely turned upside down after some notorious testimonials about abuses in the sport. It is certainly not without consequences, not even for Vera van Pol.

The sport is now on the back burner. Do you find yourself needing to take a breather after what has happened?
,Certainly. I must honestly say that there are weeks in which things go well and weeks in which nothing goes well. Then I think so much about what happened last year, then I get stuck. Then I have to be alone for a while."

Then will you worry?
,Now that I distance myself from it and let everything sink in, I think: this was actually not normal. Things have happened that I am angry and disappointed about. Not on myself, by the way. I did what I could and had to do. Now I’m like: I don’t want this anymore, it has to be different."

To understand where things went wrong, we have to go back in time. It is at the end of July last year when Gerrit Beltman gives a truly shocking interview to the Noordhollands Dagblad. The well-known gymnastics coach, now in his sixties with a dubious reputation, opens up about his past and openly admits to having mistreated and humiliated young gymnasts. The story hits like a bomb and pulls the lid off the cesspool with one firm tug. Beltman’s public penance turns out to be just the beginning of a series of confessions about abuses in the gymnastics world. One day after the interview, the now former gymnast Joy Goedkoop joins Studio Sport, where she accuses national coach Vincent Wevers of belittling, kicking and beating her. Vincent, father and coach of the successful gymnasts Sanne and Lieke Wevers, is currently in charge of the Dutch women’s team. And therefore also about Vera van Pol, who has been part of it since 2013.

Were you surprised by Gerrit Beltman’s confession?
,I never trained with him, I only knew him from the stories. When I got into top sport, he had already gone abroad. I knew the stories, also about other trainers, but I’ve never experienced anything like this myself. I thought: there are so many stories and gossip going around. As long as I haven’t experienced it myself… Maybe I was too gullible."

The shocking interview brought about a lot. How did you experience that?
“I didn’t see that coming. At that moment I was in a positive flow, we had just started again after the summer holidays when it suddenly exploded. I hadn’t even read the interview when I was watching Studio Sport and saw Joy in the studio. I thought: huh? She’s been away from gymnastics for years, what’s going on? I saw a lot of former gymnasts posting things on social media, but I hadn’t made the connection yet. Until Joy came on TV. At first I didn’t really know what was going to happen, but when I got to the gymnastics hall the next day… Then it was all wrong. You immediately noticed that there was stress and panic. Joy had mentioned the names of Vincent Wevers and Gerben Wiersma. From that moment on, they were not allowed to enter the gymnastics hall anymore."

Vincent Wevers was your coach at that time. The accusations against him were not tender.
,I thought that was intense, I couldn’t imagine it. I trained with Vincent in Heerenveen for three years and had a great time. I still had a good relationship with him at that time."

The picture she painted didn’t match how you know him?
“Know, yes. I did believe she had a rough time. In the old days it was different."

How come she has experienced such things? You are of the same birth year.
,I have had a different career and played in the first division in my youth. I have never been part of the talent group or Jong Oranje. In 2013, when I joined Oranje, I had already been a senior for three or four years. It was all different then than before."

After those testimonies, the bomb exploded: the top sports program was shut down while you were preparing for the Olympic Games at the time.
“Then you get really stressed out. At the time, we weren’t even sure if we were going to go at all. The plug was pulled completely for the same money. We were very angry about that. We were told: just train, you don’t know what could happen."

Top sport without a concrete goal?
,That can be said to you, but that is not really possible. You are not motivated at all. I understand that something had to be done, but they should never have shut down the top sports program. At a certain point, stories from the past and the current situation criss-crossed each other. We, the current generation, were pitted against the victims. While that was not the case. We also felt that they should be helped, but they were still not heard."
The top sports program was then adjusted: you all had to train in a central location under the watchful eye of observers. You had to go to Nijmegen from Heerenveen, where you live and train.

,From day one, I dreaded that, because I didn’t think that was the solution. I was like, I think we’re all grown ups, so I thought it was bullshit that we were all put together as little girls. I just didn’t feel right there in Nijmegen, but I didn’t realize that I was doing so badly mentally at that moment. I did get some weird aches and pains. That summer I had surgery on my foot and it suddenly started bothering me again. Then I went back to the doctor in Amsterdam who operated on me, but several scans showed nothing. The doctor then said, “I don’t think your foot is bothering you, but something else is going on.” That’s how I ended up with a sports psychologist."

Did that help you a lot?
(Laughs) ,I really didn’t like psychologists, I had a prejudice. I’m not a talker anyway and thought: someone like that doesn’t know me, then I have to explain completely who I am and what is going on. But Nynke, the sports psychologist I’m with, used to practice judo at a high level. She understands how that world works. I could tell my story with her. Talk to a stranger, someone who isn’t into gymnastics. Then it was empty in my head again."

Partly on her advice, you decided to stop training centrally.
,Yes. I can’t stand being pulled out of my environment just like that. In Nijmegen, for example, no physiotherapist had been arranged, while I was still convalescing. I just had to spend six months in a hotel there. I didn’t feel like myself anymore, I felt lonely. I’ve never felt homesick before, but at the time it bothered me. I sat there crying in my hotel room. I wanted to go home, to Heerenveen. I then chose for myself, but I was not thanked for that."

By whom not? The coaches?
“Also by gymnasts. I wasn’t the only one, by the way. Eythora (Thorsdottir, ed.) couldn’t do it either and went back to Hoofddorp. From that moment on, we were accused of abandoning the team. While I think: if things are not going well with yourself, then you have to find a solution. Precisely so that you can do something for the team again. That never arrived. When I was back home, I received a phone call from Vincent every week: when are you coming to Nijmegen again?"

You had decided to go back to Heerenveen with the help of your psychologist, but he kept asking if you were coming back.
“Not if, but when. Once or twice I think, okay. But he kept asking. They were afraid that central training would be canceled if no one showed up, but I wanted to stay in Heerenveen because I was doing better there."

He didn’t care about your mental health?
“That’s where the irritation started. He and his daughters had a different interest at the time"

How did that affect the relationship between you and Sanne and Lieke Wevers? You were a close-knit team at the Rio 2016 Games.
,Well, um…" Van Pol swallows for a moment. ,When Eythora and I were back in Nijmegen for a training internship, we were so pissed and hurt in front of the whole group. Something happened there that I would never tell them. more can forgive. We were accused of not being there for the team. The coaches weren’t there, so nobody intervened at the time. They just kept going. I didn’t feel believed. There was no understanding for my situation. You just felt that the door was being closed and that you no longer belonged in. While I have been with Orange since 2013. I have participated in all team tournaments. to take the train home, but wanted to show how strong I was. I didn’t want to be bullied."

You remained part of the Dutch team together. How did it go?
The next day at breakfast nothing more was said. There was a kind of chill. I thought, you’ve hurt me so much, I’m not doing anything for you anymore. But of course I also needed them to get to the Games. I built a wall around me and tried to see them purely as colleagues from then on."

At that time you still had to go to the Games together. Did you know then: this is not going to be like this?
,One half of the team wanted to make something of it together with the staff, the other half didn’t want to do without their father. There was such an atmosphere. Everyone was only concerned with themselves. Eythora and I were happy roomies, so we tried to make the most of it. Since I was the first to finish, I also went home first. When I flew back from Japan I wrote down everything I experienced. That was very relieved. I was able to tear down the wall again. I just wanted to come home comfortably. I later showed those notes to my parents and my boyfriend. They were shocked when they saw that."

You called Sanne and Lieke Wevers colleagues. Were they really friends before?
,In the time of the Rio Games, yes. And that’s over. As a top athlete you don’t have much time to make friends anyway, because you don’t have time to do social things. I was talking about this with my friend recently. I actually don’t have any friends at all, I hardly know anyone outside the gym."
“That’s a funny story. I once stood in an elevator with the national coach, Gerben (Wiersma, ed.). He said that he had just watched the last episode of Farmer Searches Woman. So I said, ‘I always watch that too! I think I’ll get into that later on too.’ Then Gerben said that he had heard that Jarne would like to have a cup of coffee with me and gave him my number. That’s how I fell into the trap. (laughs) When he once asked me what I was going to do that weekend, I said I had no plans and couldn’t go back. I had never met a boy before, I knew a lot how to do that. On our first date we went for a walk, went shopping and had dinner together. Then he wanted to watch a movie afterwards. After that we met more often and we liked each other so much…”

You threw yourself into gymnastics from a young age. Did life outside of sports never appeal to you?
,No, I had big goals in my head. I went to a party once and I remember thinking: is this it? In the meantime, ‘normal life’ is starting to beckon me a bit. I’m sniffing a bit."

Have you ever thought about quitting gymnastics?
,After the Games I did another World Cup, but that didn’t go well…" Van Pol pauses for a moment, then wipes a tear from her cheeks. ,I was so disappointed. I thought: I can go to this World Cup. “Do it for myself and if it goes well, I’ll stop. But it didn’t go well. After that World Cup I cried so much. Because I was just tired. I was so stressed. Last year and a half was terrible.”

What now?
,The World Cup made me doubt. It still itches. I don’t want to put a point in this way, it motivates me to continue."

If we come back in five years, then…
Laughing: ,Then I think we have managed to buy a house by now. By that time I’ll be 32 and stopped, so I hope to have a baby by then. Hopefully I can then guide other athletes. So that they can also make their dreams come true."

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