November 27, 2022

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After financial hardship, the "new" Belgians received another blow: "Fortunately, the burns weren't so bad."

After financial hardship, the “new” Belgians received another blow: “Fortunately, the burns weren’t so bad.”

“I woke up” The president of KBSF, Cornet Lepotre, said about it at the time. Sport Vlaanderen support is not enough to send more skiers. “Especially since the performance is going up, and it’s very annoying. Now they can only drive if they pay for it themselves. It’s a really big problem, but if there’s no money, I can’t spend it. We were hoping that after the Olympic successes, sponsors would be added, but The budget is at zero.

In addition to Matthias Fausti and Sandrine Tass, Isabel van Elst should also become a constant value in the World Cup Finals. The 24-year-old skater moved from Holland to Belgium this summer. In recent years, Van Elst played for the Jota Leerdam commercial team World Stream and was allowed to participate in the World Cup competitions in Heerenveen. Her best times are 38.03 at the 500m and 1:15.58 at the 1000m. This is better than the current Belgian records held by Sandrine Tass (38.66 and 1:16.46).

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An asset, but then Van Elst would have to pay for the World Cup trips herself. Talk about a downer after switching it off. “Financially, I have the potential at the moment to go to the World Cup because of the special sponsors,” says Van Elst, who trains with the Norwegian team, which the Swings have also done for years. “But to get to the end of the season in a proper way, something extra has to be added.”

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Boiling water

But as if it had to be the case, Van Elst was currently struggling with her health. She suffered burns to her legs and a respiratory infection.

“While steaming due to this infection, I had to cough and then the pot of boiling water fell from the table to my knees,” she sighs. “It wasn’t pleasant, but fortunately the burns weren’t too bad and they have since recovered. I immediately went to the doctor who put some kind of watery bandage on. As a result, the legs were only red, with some spots where there is a small wound from Small blisters, but thankfully they healed quickly. The infection takes a very long time and that is the worst part. Fortunately, things are going in the right direction after two weeks of taking antibiotics. I suppose I’ll be back in full swing for the World Cup.”

Van Elst wants to show immediately what it will be presenting in Stavanger (November 11-13) in Norway. It sounds like “I had a very good summer”. “I’ve made great strides both physically and technically. Everyone gets sick from time to time, so I hope it doesn’t affect my performance too much. Of course I’ve been able to stand on the ice less than the rest so far. This might have a positive impact at the end of the season. With the World Cup (2- March 5), which is ultimately the most important. Of course I also hope to put in some good performances in the World Cup. At the moment I don’t know where I stand yet, so this will be a surprise in the first matches.”

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Another skater who no longer plays for the Netherlands this season but for Belgium is Dan van der Elst (20). He was born and raised in Belgium and has a Belgian mother. But because he started skiing in Breda, van der Elst originally started driving under the Dutch flag. Until now. The intention is that he will qualify for the Under-23 World Cup, but he is also striving for places at the top in the world. But it will also be at his own expense.

“The lack of finances for top athletes and skaters in this area is a big problem anyway,” says the Team Frysk skater. “It is really very difficult to get personal sponsors in these times and paying for everything yourself is a heavy burden. So if any form of financial support disappears, it will be a difficult story for many. I hope the enthusiasm increases now that it is a sport Skating is more popular in Belgium after the previous Olympics. Because often the doors only open when the performance is there, but the path to that performance needs just as much guidance.”

Van der Elst also had his sights set on the marathon circuit and mass start, part of Olympic champion Bart Swings. But his preparation for the new season suffered a serious setback. He had a serious fall during the marathon in Amsterdam, Who also participated in Swings and became 4th. Van der Elst was hit in the leg by the skater’s blade in front of him and had to be sewed up on the spot.

“I’m fine, but that’s kind of a bummer,” it seems. Everything will be fine, but the stitches will not be allowed to come out for ten days. Then I can start building again, I think.”

© Neeke Anna Wassenbergh-Smit