Casimir Schmidt – a passion for fashion and cooking

Casimir Schmidt at Superstars of Gymnastics – (photo by Sarah Baldwin / Gym Stars)

27 June 2019 – At the Dutch national championships last weekend, Casimir became all-around champion, a title that had eluded him since he first won it in 2013. Now aged 23, he is working hard to reach his goal of competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I met him in March at the Superstars of Gymnastics show in London, where he got into the spirit of the occasion by colouring his hair green. This, with his trademark Dutch orange leggings, earned him the nickname “the gymnastics carrot”! 

Ever since he walked into his sister’s gym when he was a young child, Casimir has been hooked on gymnastics. He progressed rapidly and in his early senior career, things were looking good for him. Then came a turning point in 2016, when the Netherlands had a chance to qualify a full team to the Olympic Games for the first time since the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. 

To do this, they had to finish in the top three at the test event in April 2016. Casimir was part of the team that achieved the historic result – third place, and a ticket to the Olympic team competition. But then came a setback for Casimir. Despite being a regular member of the national team since 2013, he faltered in the selection camps and was not chosen for the Olympic team. 

It was a disappointing blow. But sometimes setbacks serve to test one’s strength and character. Casimir was even more determined to qualify to the next Olympic Games, in 2020 in Tokyo. The big test for that comes at the World championships later this year in Stuttgart.

“We’re working towards the world championships,” he tells me. “It’s going to be a hard ride, but that’s the main goal – to make the top 12 so we can go to the Olympics with the team.”

That team includes the world famous “flying Dutchman” – twice high bar Olympic champion, Epke Zonderland. He is a gymnast that has inspired Casimir for many years. “Of course – you have to admire him,” says Casimir. “He’s been a member of the team for so many years, and his way of handling everything around the sport – like the media, and food, and everything – is just amazing.”

Casimir Schmidt at the Superstars of Gymnastics – photo courtesy Jamie McPhilimey/Matchroom Multi Sport

In his spare time, Casimir is a dedicated follower of fashion: “I like being busy with fashion, shoes and so on. I like being on the Internet, scrolling down every blog and stuff, just watching what’s going on in the fashion world.”

He is also a dab hand in the kitchen. “I like to cook,” he says. “I’m good at cooking risotto, but I like cooking everything. I also like baking – pies and cakes and stuff.” 

With his recent results at the national championships – he also won gold medals on rings and floor, and silver on pommel horse – Casimir is definitely back on track. But it was his vault he was most proud of – he competed a Dragulescu (handspring double front with half twist) for the first time.

Although he took a few steps on landing, he said this on Instagram: “for me personally, this was the best thing that happened at Dutch nationals. When I started doing gymnastics, Marian Dragulescu was already performing on the highest level in the world. When he invented this skill, all I wanted to do was to perform the Dragulescu in a competition. I worked very hard for this and last weekend the day was finally there. I know I can improve a lot, but this made me so, so, so happy.”

Ellie Downie – back in the medal hunt

“Gymnastics is getting so much harder”

Elissa Downie of Great Britain (photo by Sarah Baldwin / Gym Stars)

27 April 2019 – European all-around champion in 2017, Ellie Downie of Great Britain then spent over a year recovering from surgery – twice – on her left ankle. She returned to competition at the 2018 world championships, then became British champion in March. In April she won the all-around silver medal and bronze on vault at the European championships. I talked to her about what it took to make a successful comeback.

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James Hall – perseverance pays off

“It’s so exciting to be the top dog”

James Hall of Great Britain (Photo courtesy Glasgow 2018 via Getty Images)

3rd April 2019 – Bronze medalist in the last European all-around competition, James is a top prospect for next week’s European championships in Poland. Now 23 years old, he struggled for many years to reach this level and is a perfect example of the saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again”. He talked to Gym Stars just before the Superstars of Gymnastics show in London.

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Danusia Francis – putting on a show

“I adore and worship Usain Bolt

Danusia “does a Bolt” at the Superstars of Gymnastics (Photo courtesy Jamie McPhilimey / Matchroom Multi Sport)

19 March 2019 – This Saturday, 24-year-old Danusia, a former British gymnast now representing Jamaica, takes part in the Superstars of Gymnastics show in London. It will suit her very well, having competed for college gymnastics in the USA where they like to entertain the audience. I chatted with her after the 2019 English championships. 

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Amelie Morgan – 2019 English champion

“I’m absolutely over the moon!”

Amelie Morgan of England & Great Britain (photo by Sarah Baldwin / Gym Stars)

11th March 2019 –  In her first year as a senior (she turns 16 in May) Amelie Morgan was delighted to win the English all-around title, which makes her a top prospect for the British championships coming up this weekend. I spoke to her after her win.

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Max Whitlock “we’re looking at the bigger picture”

Max Whitlock of Great Britain after competing in pommel horse qualifications at the 2018 European Championships (Photo courtesy Glasgow 2018 via Getty Images)

12 August 2018 – When Max just missed out on the gold medal to Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan at the Commonwealth Games in early 2018, it set up the prospect of an exciting re-match between himself and Rhys at the European championships in Glasgow. I spoke to Max both before and after the pommel horse final – where a mistake left him in seventh place.

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The young Turks aiming for glory

10 August 2018 – A surprise newcomer to the top tier of European gymnastics has emerged at the 2018 European championships in Glasgow. Turkey are not a team that have featured highly in gymnastics before, but they outscored some of the more experienced gymnastics nations to finish fifth after qualifications, reaching their first ever European team final. I spoke to gymnast Ahmet Onder and coach Aljaz Pegan (a former Slovenian gymnast) before the team finals.

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