Belgium's Waem Warming Up for Worlds Debut
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Preparing for the world championships in Antwerp later this month, Belgian gymnast Laura Waem told IG that the event will serve as a personal benchmark in her worlds debut. Pictured: Waem, Lisa Verschueren and Mys will represent Gaelle Mys will represent the Belgiam women in Antwerp.

Preparing for the world championships in Antwerp later this month, Belgian gymnast Laura Waem told IG that the event will serve as a personal benchmark in her worlds debut.

"I'm very happy to be able to compete in the world championships," said Waem, who finished third all-around at this year's Belgian championships. "I've worked hard for this, and now that I've come to the point where I am actually participating, I've realized that this is only the beginning. This is where I will have to live up to my country's, my coaches' and most importantly, my own expectations."

Born Aug. 5, 1997, in Vrasene, Waem began gymnastics at age 2. "My older sister, Lynn, used to do gymnastics, and when she stopped, I started," Waem said. Lynn, now 20, played tennis and volleyball until she began studying law at university.

Waem, who was a member of the Belgian team that placed 12th at the 2012 European Junior Championships in Brussels, is in her first year of senior competition.

Earlier this year she tied for fourth place on balance beam and placed sixth on uneven bars at the Gymnix International in Montreal; and placed seventh on uneven bars at the FIG Challenge Cup in Anadia, Portugal. On Aug. 31 Waem placed 11th all-around at the Dutch Invitational.

Waem said she has long admired senior gymnasts, especially Belgian team stars such as 2004 Olympian Aagje Vanwalleghem, 2008 and 2012 Olympian Gaelle Mys and current standout Julie Croket.

"I've often trained with Aagje, Gaelle and Julie, and I've learned a lot from them," said Waem, who is coached by Yves Kieffer and Marjorie Heuls at Topsportcentrum in Ghent. "I have looked up to the Belgian senior team and other foreign gymnasts who were and are very talented, to improve my own skills."

Waem said she is most inspired by her mother, Marina, a nurse.

"She has always been my biggest support, and still is," Waem said of her mother. "She motivates me a lot to continue doing gymnastics."

Although Belgium missed qualifying a team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London by one spot, Waem said diligence can help the team earn a berth to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"Belgium needs motivated and hard-working, talented people in order to earn one of those spots," Waem told IG.

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of Belgian gymnastics includes:
"Quick Chat: Julie Croket" – interview (December 2012)
"Gaining Confidence" – Julie Croket profile (November 2010)
"Rising Moonen" - Lynn Moonen profile (December 2004)
"Mighty Mys" - Gaelle Mys profile (October 2005)
"Making Her Way" - Aagje Vanwalleghem profile (August/September 2004)

To subscribe or order back issues, click here.

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