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Kaylia Nemour: Africa’s Hope for a First-Ever Olympics Gymnastics Medal

Kaylia Nemour: Africa’s Hope for a First-Ever Olympics Gymnastics Medal

Kaylia Nemour

Teenage Algerian rising star, Kaylia Nemour, aims to make gymnastics history at the 2024 Paris Olympics

By Tuka Letura 

Algeria’s Kaylia Nemour and South Africa’s Caitlin Rooskrantz will proudly represent Africa in the all-around gymnastics competition at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Nemour, who only turned 17 in December 2023, picked up six medals, including four gold at the 2024 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup series, with at least one in three of the four series. She was the ultimate champion in the Uneven Bars event, with three gold medals while Vault, Balance Beam and Floor, were claimed by North Korea’s An Chang-ok, Belgium’s Nina Derwael, and Austria’s Charlize Mörz, respectively.

There are three main categories for Olympic gymnastics: Rhythmic Gymnastics, Trampoline Gymnastics, and Artistic Gymnastics. Rhythmic Gymnastics, exclusive to women, focuses on grace and coordination with apparatuses like the ribbon and hoop.

Trampoline Gymnastics, for both men and women, involves performing acrobatic skills on a trampoline, emphasising height, form, and execution. The third, Artistic Gymnastics, is also split into men’s and women’s categories. The men’s category is referred to as Men’s Artistic Gymnastics (MAG) and uses six apparatuses, which are floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar.

Kaylia Nemour
Kaylia Nemour

 Women’s Artistic Gymnastics (WAG) is known for its blend of athleticism, precision, and artistic expression– qualities that perfectly describe Nemour. In this discipline, gymnasts compete on four apparatuses: the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. Through these events, they demonstrate their strength, flexibility, balance, and grace in a variety of routines.

Each performance is scored individually, and these scores are combined to create a total score for each gymnast. The gymnasts with the three highest total scores across the four apparatuses are awarded the gold, silver, and bronze medals. 

Born on November 5, 2006, in Saint-Benoît, Réunion, France, to a French mother and an Algerian father, Nemour began her career representing France. However, in 2022, she switched her allegiance to Algeria, in North Africa.

No African has ever won a medal in artistic gymnastics in the history of the Olympics. Neither a man, a woman, nor any team in both current and discontinued events has seen an African champion at the Olympics. But there’s a chance to end that run and make history in Kaylia Nemour, who isn’t new to being a first. 

In 2023, Nemour became the African All-Around champion and even got a gymnastics move named after her. She ended the year with an Olympic spot and a World Championships silver medal on Uneven Bars, making history as the first gymnast from an African country to win a World medal. She also finished ahead of the legendary Simone Biles, who placed fifth. 

Uneven Bars World Championships 2023
Uneven Bars World Championships 2023

This Olympics presents a new challenge for her, but one thing Nemour is known for is rising and surpassing expectations. Despite this being her first-ever Olympics, gymnastics enthusiasts widely believe that she will rise to the occasion.

Just as she did at the African Artistic Gymnastics Championships in May 2023 and the 2022 Arab Gymnastics Championships, where she claimed gold medals in the All-Around and Uneven Bars respectively, the Olympics is another step up. 

Uneven Bars is undoubtedly Nemour’s strongest apparatus, the one area where she rarely goes wrong. Projections of a possible medal claim stem from her prowess in this event, especially considering the competition.  

Kaylia Nemour during an Uneven Bars event
Kaylia Nemour during an Uneven Bars event

These predictions still stand despite her being up against gymnastics legends like Simone Biles (USA) and Rebeca Andrade (Brazil), amongst many others with Olympic experience. Qiu Qiyuan of China, another Olympic debutant like Nemour, also shows great promise and the potential to cause an upset. 

Nemour is also very good at Balance Beam and Floor, which gives her a slithering chance at an all-round medal, but that is a far cry from now. Regardless, hopes remain high for that Olympic medal. 

2024 Olympics Women’s Gymnastics Events Schedule

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28 July ( Sunday) 

  • 09:30 to 21:10: Women’s Qualification (Subdivisions 1 to 5) 

30 July (Tuesday)

  • 18:15: Women’s Team Final

01 August (Thursday)

  • 18:15: Women’s All-Around Final

03 August (Saturday)

  • 16:20: Women’s Vault Final

04 August (Sunday)

  • 15:40: Women’s Uneven Bars Final

05 August (Monday)

  • 12:36: Women’s Balance Beam Final
  • 14:20: Women’s Floor Exercise Final

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics. He is devoted to sharing his enthusiasm for sports with his audience and engaging them with interesting anecdotes and viewpoints.

Cover photo credit: Getty Images

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