Van Acker, who is the current world number two, had been in the lead after the eighth day of racing. By the morning of the 11th – and final – medal regatta off the coast of Weymouth, she had slipped to fourth place but managed to claw her way back into a medal position by the end of the final race.
Also as Flanders Today went to press, the Borlée twins from Brussels were preparing to run the 400m finals, scheduled for late Monday. Jonathan Borlée ran the fastest heat, winning in 44.43, and also nicked Belgium’s national record from his brother, Kevin. The achievement took its toll, though: He awoke the next day with leg pain, which could affect his performance in the finals.
Most of the Flemish hopefuls at this Olympics have underperformed so far. The most recognisable star on the Belgian Olympic team, Kim Clijsters, was knocked out of the singles tennis quarter-finals by world number three, Maria Sharapova.
In the cycling road race, Jürgen Roelandts finished in seventh place, with Philippe Gilbert 19th and Tom Boonen 28th.
In hockey, Belgium’s men’s and women’s teams were both competing in their first Olympics, but, while they did not disgrace themselves, they not could elevate themselves to the same level as the game’s aristocracy.
Notable performances during the first week included Belgium reaching a swimming relay final for the first time ever when the men qualified in the 4x100m freestyle (where they took eighth and last place); Ilse Heylen narrowly losing out on a bronze medal in the women's under 52 kg judo; and Liesbeth De Vocht taking ninth place in the women’s road race. Meanwhile, Belgium’s accomplished riding contingent disappointed in London, with the show jumping team finishing 13th out of the 15 countries competing.
But there is still time for the Flemish hopefuls to make their mark. Fans may recall that it was at this stage four years ago in Beijing that the women’s sprint relay roared in second to claim silver, and Tia Hellebaut snatched a gold medal in the high jump.
After that gold, Hellebaut announced her retirement, but she returned to the sport and is competing in London with an outside chance of repeating her golden victory. She and others may yet bring back the goods in the days that remain. Across Flanders – and Belgium – millions are crossing their fingers for another late surge in London.