Olympic medals out of reach for Flemish athletes


It was as close at it could get in speed skating, and the bobsleigh team gave it their all, but Olympic medals were out of the reach of Flanders’ athletes this month in Sochi

“Belgian Bullets” bobsled team reaches sixth place

Belgium’s last medal hopes at the Sochi Winter Olympics were dashed when the women’s bobsleigh duo of Hanna Mariën and Eefje Willemsen could only secure sixth place in their finals. The team, dubbed the Belgian Bullets, had surged into fourth place after the second round, with a podium finish looking tantalisingly close.

The result left them both in tears, but they maintained their pride at their achievement, saying they had met their target of a top eight finish. “If a year ago you would have told me we would take sixth place here, I would not have believed you,” Willemsen said. Mariën – Belgium’s flag carrier and a former sprinter – insisted they had no regrets. “Why are we crying? We should be happy!” she said.

Medals proved elusive for the Belgians in Sochi in general. In the second week, 37-year-old Katrien Aerts failed to reach the final of the half-pipe freestyle skiing event after she scored 54.40 for 17th place in the first round. In figure skating, Jorik Hendrickx – at 21, the youngest Belgian in Sochi – scored 214.04 points and a 16th place finish in his first Olympics, as he performed to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”.

The best medal hopes came earlier, with speed skater Bart Swings coming fourth in the 5,000m, fifth in the 10,000m and 10th in the 1,500m. Jelena Peeters came 12th in the 3,000 metres skating race, while Seppe Smits failed to qualify for the semi-finals in the slopestyle.

photo courtesy Sporza