Celine Van Gerner: It was once in a lifetime opportunity, so I went all in

The Dutch gymnasts have been known for their performance abilities for quite a while and they demonstrate in not only on the floor but even in how their team enters the arena:

However, yesterday, Celine Van Gerner took the performance to a whole new level. Van Gerner has a floor routine set to the music from Cats and it includes not only exceptionally clean tumbling and leaps but also very expressive dancing. Van Gerner said on Twitter that she started working on this routine by just trying to do some cat-like moves in order to get into the character.

The gymnast didn’t quite expect to make a floor final at Euros – she is still recovering from a leg injury and her difficulty is still low. However, the high level of execution allowed her to qualify to the final in the 8th place. Since Van Gerner wasn’t sure she’d ever have an opportunity like this again, she wanted to make this time really memorable and added a special hairdo and makeup to her striped leo to make herself look more like a cat. This caused quite a controversy among the fans, with some being in love with the routine and some feeling that this was a bit too much. For now, the rules do not prohibit such makeup (and it’s not clear how exactly the rules could regulate makeup and hair and apply the regulations in practice) but I can see how potentially some amendment could be added like it happened with the chalkography in NCAA. Although, as some fans argued on Twitter, if men are allowed to compete while having half of their body covered in tattoos, women should be allowed to paint their face however they want.

Celine Van Gerner talked to Gymnovosti about her routine and why she decided to do the special makeup.

Q: People online are somewhat divided about your makeup, some love it and some think it shouldn’t be allowed. How did you come up with this idea?

A: I think everybody has their own opinion. I can understand it because it’s not like we’re used to makeup like this in artistic gymnastics, but for me, it was like… I’m doing this routine based on the musical Cats, I’m wearing a cat-like leotard… I came in 8th, so it was kind of once in a lifetime opportunity to go all in. We checked the rules and there was no restriction on makeup, so we just went for it. And, like I said, it’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. And it was really fun.

When you see only my makeup you’re like “what is she doing?” but when the music starts it all comes together. When I walked into the warm-up hall I was like “Oh God…” but here in the arena it’s ok. People were giving me the looks because it’s not known, it’s not regular. But there were a lot of positive reactions as well.

Q: Have you seen Cats?

A: They’re coming to Holland in December and the tickets are already sold out but I hope I can still get in.

Q: Do you plan to add any upgrades on floor?

A: Yes, I do but I also need to add vault, first. I didn’t do vault here. I didn’t do vault for about a year because I took a year off gymnastics after Rio and then I started to come back slowly but for the Euros, I didn’t need vault and it’s my weakest event. But for the Worlds, I need to bring vault back. But yeah, I have to upgrade my floor routine in the future because it’s too easy now.

Q: What do you do besides gymnastics?

A: I do dancing. I really like dancing. Not professionally, I only do it about two-three hours a week because gymnastics takes so much time and gymnastics is my highest priority.

Q: Do you feel like taking dance classes helped you with your floor routines?

A: Yes! Because when you look at my routines as a junior, in 2008, I’m not really moving well. So it really helped me a lot along the way.

Q: How long did it take you to put this routine together?

A: We spent a week in Belgium last May and set the ground, the basics of this routine. And for the past month, for three weeks we’ve been working on it every day – first, cleaning the hands and the feet and then adding the facial expressions. We put a lot of work into it.



Photo: Gymania, Israeli Gymnastics Magazine

Gymnovosti is able to provide coverage of the European Championships thanks to the support from our patrons on Patreon.

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  • Qualified in 8th and ended up 4th! Once she recovers from her injuries who knows where she’ll finish, with her exceptionally clean execution? She’s adorable, and I love the routine. And yes, if we have to see the men’s tats, surely the women can put on whatever makeup they wish.