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.”
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.”