For the first time in 10 years, Belgium came back from the World Championships in Athletics without a medal. Does the Olympic Games in Paris next year worry you? For Rutger Smith, chief sports coordinator of the Flemish Athletics League, relay teams are the key to success. “We need to get everyone on the same page.”
Belgium returned last year with three medals from the World Cup in Eugene: gold for Nafie Thiam, bronze for Bashir Abdi and the Belgian Tornado. Then the harvest in Budapest is very meager.
Rutger Smith agrees: “We had the most successful World Cup last year.” “Now Thiam and Abdi weren’t there and the relay team failed. Then you come back without a medal.”
“It doesn’t mean we weren’t hoping for a medal here. That would have been a great result.”
Disappointment? “We did really well across the show,” Smith tells Nuance. “We’ve had a number of top eight places so we don’t go home with too bad feelings. Most of them are in good shape against Paris.”
His colleague Jonathan Nsenga also sees it positively. “We’ve qualified for five finals and that’s excellent. It’s as good as last year. It’s very positive, and we’re looking forward to next year’s Olympic Games.”
Rutger Smith: “We have to put everything in order”
Everyone was expecting the Belgian Tornado to reach the final on the last day, but they stumbled in the qualifiers. “It’s a pity that they miss the final for the first time in 15 years,” Smith said. “Everyone expected more of it.”
“We also realize that a medal at this level cannot be taken for granted, but we should have at least been able to compete for podium places, as has always been the case on previous occasions. However, no one was able to achieve That. The difference is unfortunate.”
“Are they old? No, it’s too shortsighted to write off Tornadoes already. They became European champions during the indoor season. It’s a setback on the way to Paris, but we shouldn’t carry the heavy burden.” I think they are now more than excited to show something next year.”
The Belgian Leopards finished fifth, minus Cynthia Bolingo (fifth in the 400-meter individual). “It’s hard to get a medal without it,” said Smith. “She had a great tournament and it’s the Panthers. Put Cynthia in and you’ll be closer to the medals.”
To really score, you have to ask yourself if we shouldn’t prioritize.
So Rutger Smith believes that the relay teams are the main contenders for medals in Paris. “We have to sit together for Paris and keep noses in the same direction to put everything on the relays,” he says.
“If athletes have to choose between fifth or sixth place in the individual number or a medal with the relay team, the choice is easy.”
“In the past, everyone would run their own individual program. But now that they also have to combine the mixed relay with 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m, the program is very crowded.”
“In order to score a real goal, you have to ask yourself if we should prioritize. I think most coaches and athletes would agree with this story, so I don’t expect it to be too difficult.”
There is no medal, but a prize money of $48,000
Belgium finished the World Cup without a medal for the first time since 2013, but five places in the top eight secured prize money of $48,000.
The best Belgian result in Budapest came from 400m runner Cynthia Bolingo and the Belgian Panthers and mixed relay team. All of them finished in fifth place.
Bolingo got $11,000 for it, and each of the relief teams could split $12,000. Noor Veidts, sixth in the heptathlon, raised $7,000. Ben Broeders earned $6,000 thanks to his seventh-place finish in the pole vault.
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