Record number of medals for Belgian athletes at Special Olympics
Belgian athletes have won a record 126 medals at the 16th Special Olympics World Games in Germany. Altogether, they won 52 gold, 35 silver and 39 bronze medals, Special Olympics Belgium said on Monday.
This year's Special Olympics took place in Berlin from 17 to 25 June, with a total of 7,000 athletes from 190 delegations taking part. Belgium sent 88 athletes, who won 126 medals across 16 disciplines.
These included three gold medals for cyclist Jimmy Van Craeynest and the Special Flames, the women's football team. In athletics, Ruben Leplae won no fewer than five gold medals. Belgium took gold in kayaking too, thanks to Nona Gielis. The hockey team took bronze.
"We strongly believe in the slogan 'participating is more important than winning'. We are incredibly proud of all our athletes' achievements," said Hans Bruyninckx, president of Special Olympics Belgium. "Each achievement not only reflects their sporting ability but also shows their resilience and drive as human beings. The passion for sport transcends their limitations."
It was not only athletes with physical disabilities who competed in Berlin. The Olympic Games for people with intellectual disabilities, which was first held in since 1968, also took place. After the closing ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin passed the Olympic Flame of Hope on to Perth in Australia, where the next Games will take place in 2027.
Sara Zeebroek from Belgium celebrates her gold medal in the equestrian discipline © PHOTO ANDREAS GORA/DPA