Ten Women to watch

These ten women gymnasts are pushing the boundaries of what's possible and inspiring generations to come.

Erika Pinxten (Belgium)

Just 16 years old, Erika is the youngest gymnast on the Belgian gymnastics team and is the national all-around champion. She trains 30 hours a week at the Topsportcentrum in Ghent. Like her idol, uneven bars Olympic champion Nina Derwael, Erika received her early training at 'Sta Paraat' in Hasselt. Earlier this year, competing as a senior for the first time, she won two bronze medals at the World Cup in Cairo, on beam and uneven bars. She is definitely one to watch for the future.

Rebeca Andrade - Brazil
This 24-year-old suffered years of setbacks with injuries early in her career, but eventually made a full recovery to become a star at the 2020 Olympic Games. She won the gold medal on vault and the all-around silver, becoming the first Brazilian female gymnast to capture an Olympic medal. Later in 2021 she returned to Japan for the world championships and won gold on vault and silver on uneven bars. Last year Andrade became the all-round world champion in Liverpool and she will be hoping to defend her title here in Antwerp.

Elsabeth Black - Canada

Known as Ellie, this 28-year-old has competed in three Olympic Games, and is a strong all-around gymnast. She placed fifth at the 2016 Olympic Games and took the silver medal at the 2017 world championships, as well as taking several medals at the Pan American championships over the years. A the world championships in Liverpool last year, Ellie led her team to a historic bronze medal, thereby securing an Olympic ticket to Paris for Canada. She has a move on the uneven bars named after her. About her longevity in the sport, she says “I joke that I'm old, but really there are so many athletes who are sticking around at this age. I think we're developing and growing, and that's a great thing for the sport."

QIU Qiyuan - People’s Republic of China
This is the world championships debut for the-16-year-old , but she has already won accolades in the sport. She is the current national all-round champion and also won the all-round title at the Asian Championships in June this year. Apart from all-around, she is also fantastic on beam and uneven bars, claiming gold at the Baku world cup this year. When asked how she feels about being at these world championships, she said “Absolutely excited. The goal is of course stepping onto the top of the medal podium. But of course this is my first time, so just being steady will be the key.”

Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos - France

Originally from Martinique, a French overseas territory in the Caribbean, this 23-year-old moved from France to the USA in 2021 to train with Simone Biles’ French coaches, Cécile and Laurent Landi. She competed at the 2020 Olympic Games, placing 11th all-around and reaching the uneven bars final. Melanie has been particularly successful at the European championships, winning the 2019 all-around title, becoming twice European floor champion, and balance beam champion in 2021. Last year she helped her team reach the final and she has the 2024 Olympic Games in her homeland firmly in her sights.

Jessica Gadirova - Great Britain
Jessica is the reigning world champion on floor exercise, a feat she achieved in her debut world championships last year in Liverpool. She also took the all-around bronze medal and silver with the team, thereby securing an Olympic qualification spot. She burst onto the scene at the 2021 European Championships where she won the gold medal on floor. She then competed at the Olympic Games where she won a team bronze-medal, the first Olympic team medal for the British women since 1928. Jessica retained her European floor title last year and will be defending her world floor title here in Antwerp.

Alice D’Amato - Italy

A 2020 Olympian, D’Amato was a member of the team that won the bronze medal at the 2019 world championships, the first women’s team medal for Italy since 1950. Last year at both the European championships and Mediterranean Games, she was part of the Italian team that won the gold medal. Now 20 years old, she is an expert on the uneven bars, winning the European bronze medal in 2019 and the European silver medal in 2022. Her twin sister Asia is also a strong gymnast, becoming European all-around champion in 2022, but injury has kept her out of top level gymnastics since then.

ASHIKAWA Urara Japan
This gymnast from Shizuoka followed in her older sisters footsteps in gymnastics, and has become a master of the balance beam. She reached the beam finals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and went on to become 2021 world champion on this event.. She hasn’t competed much internationally since then, except for the Cottbus World Cup earlier this year, where she placed second. The 20-year-old will be leading a team of talented newcomers in their quest for Olympic team qualification here in Antwerp.

Ana Barbosu - Romania

This young gymnast is only 17 years old but she is already the veteran of her even younger team. She made quite an impression at the 2020 European Junior Championships, winning six gold medals, and in her first senior event, the 2022 world cup in Mersin, she won three gold medals on everything except vault. She competed in her first senior world championships in Liverpool last year as an individual, but arrived in Antwerp with a full team.”I am very happy, because this time I’m with a team and the atmosphere is completely different. The coaches and the team are so much more cheerful and happy for each other. It’s nicer.”

Simone Biles - USA

Last, but by no means least, we have the superstar from the United States, Simone Biles. This record-breaking gymnast returns to the scene of her first world championships in 2013, where she won the all-around title, and has never lost an all-around world title at every world championship she has competed in since. In 2016, she dominated the Olympic Games and amazed everyone with her spectacular difficulty. She had a difficult time at the 2020 Olympic Games, however, having to withdraw from most of the competition suffering from a mental block which she described as the ‘twisties.’. She only returned to top level competition earlier this year, and is definitely back, better than ever. She is submitting yet another vault to be named after her - the Yurchenko double pike. Expect a raucous reception for this 26 year old!