7 August 2019

Van Gerner announced retirement

Céline van Gerner of the Netherlands has announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics today.

I wrote a story on her retirement (and career) for the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation (KNGU).

Celine van Gerner afscheid

Van Gerner announced retirement

Céline van Gerner has announced her retirement from competitive gymnastics today. She will now focus on new challenges.

“After 17 years I’m closing beautiful chapter of my life. Even though the Olympics in Tokyo are close to many; fun, commitment and the drive are needed to be able to perform. I noticed that I couldn’t give a 100% anymore and I had to be honest towards myself as well as my teammates. I had to dare to take a new road,” Van Gerner said.

Van Gerner said that while recovering from her Achilles surgery, she started doubting her decision to come back. She felt like she learned more about herself during this year which helped her to make the decision.

Her last competition was the European Championships in Glasgow, where she won bronze with the Dutch team and finished fourth in the floor exercise final.

“In that time period, I started looking at myself. What do I want? What gives me energy? Challenge, growth and curiosity are my motives. That’s what makes me happy. I love the sport, the game. But I couldn’t do it every day anymore. Lately, I wasn’t fully in it anymore. Part of me was already busy with life after my gymnastics career. It’s been hard to make the final decision. It’s fine this way. I always told myself I had to win a big medal (at a European or World Championship). Everything had to be perfect. I failed myself with that. My whole career is one big medal. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve been amongst the top for years and I have been able to compete in big finals.”

She was able to compete at the Olympic Games twice. In 2012, she placed 12th in the all around final. In 2016 she placed seventh in the team final:

“The Olympic Games in London are still number one for me. Recently, I went back to London to close everything. Ever since that moment, it’s been calm in my head.”


Van Gerner is very grateful to the national coach Gerben Wiersma for the years of cooperation in the sport:

“Our co-operation was unique and special. I could tell him everything. He knows me through and through and we’ve always had a very open communication style. He gave me the lead and was open to think along. I’m proud of our co-operation.”

The two worked together for years: in the early years Wiersma was Van Gerner’s personal coach, later he became the national team coach. Wiersma said about her: “Céline is a special person with a lot of perseverance. She has been decisive for Dutch gymnastics and has opened the way to where we are now with her achievements. Her achievement at the Olympics in 2012 has inspired many gymnasts and that was a very important start for us. I’m sure she’ll come back in the sport, maybe even in gymnastics. I grant her a fantastic life with everything that’s going to be coming on her path.”


Van Gerner is now thinking about the future:

“I’m open to many different things. This past year I’ve done a Master in Coaching at the Johan Cruyff Institute and I really want to do something with that. The job of coaching is very interesting to me, in a very broad wayBut performing and acting are also things that I really like. I’m looking to the future with lots of curiosity, I’m looking forward to new challenges and developments. I want to keep improving and growing as a person,” said Van Gerner.

Van Gerner