A record: Flanders has 79 athletes with elite sports contracts
This year, Flanders has a record number of 79 athletes with contracts in top-level sports. Flemish minister for sports Ben Weyts announced this on Tuesday. Compared to last year, eight more elite sports contracts have been signed.
With 79 elite sports contracts in 25 different disciplines, this represents an almost 40 per cent increase in four years. And all this while standards continue to rise. The Flemish government invests 30 million euros a year in top-level sport, a 30 per cent increase compared to the beginning of this legislative period.
We have never invested so much in elite sports
"We have never invested so much in elite sports, and we have never been as ambitious as we are today," says Weyts. "Soon, strong Flemish athletes will be competing in Paris, fully supported".
In addition to established stars such as gymnast Nina Derwael, cyclist Lotte Kopecky and judoka Matthias Casse, athletes such as Mighty Jim (Breaking), Karin Donckers (Equestrian), Thibaut Vervoort (3x3 Basketball), Luka Van Den Keybus (Gymnastics), William De Smet (Sailing) and Timothy Herman (Athletics) have also received contracts for elite sports.
There are also contracts for women's hockey and contractual support for the Belgian Cats, the women's national basketball team, during the periods when they compete for the national basketball team.
Elite Sport Index
The boom in Flemish sports is also reflected in the Elite Sport Index. This index is compiled based on medals and top 8 finishes at the Olympic Games and the European and World Championships in Olympic disciplines. In ten years, the number of Flemish points has tripled from 353 in 2014 to 1,042 at the end of 2023.
"We make clear choices in our elite sports policy - and it pays off," says Weyts. "The whole of Flemish society benefits. The successes of elite sports capture our imagination and inspire us. Watching sports encourages participation in sports.
#FlandersNewsService | Belgian Nina Derwael and Gymnastics coach German Ulla Koch pictured during a training session of the Belgian gymnasts. © BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER