Six medals for Belgium at European Short Track Speed Skating Championships
Belgium won one gold, one silver and four bronze medals at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships this weekend. The gold medal was won by Hanne Desmet in the 1,000m on Sunday.
27-year-old Desmet attacked with two laps to go, after a series of position changes. None of the other four finalists had an answer to Desmet's breakaway as she added to her 2023 title.
At the line she was more than half a second ahead of the runner-up, the Netherlands' Selma Poutsma. Her younger brother Stijn took bronze over the same distance. The short-trackers made good on their promise with two prizes in the relay.
The mixed team with Hanne and Stijn Desmet, Tineke den Dulk and Adriaan Dewagtere took bronze behind the Netherlands and Poland. Italy's Pietro Sighel had been in the lead but crashed in the last curve.
The men's quartet, again featuring Stijn Desmet and Dewagtere with Ward Pétré and Warre Van Damme, came second to the Netherlands. In a chase over the final 5 km, Desmet crossed the line 23 thousandths of a second behind Dutchman Itzhak de Laat. Two bronze medals had already been won in the sprint on Saturday.
The crashes of Hanne and Stijn Desmet in the final of the 1,500m set the scene for the tournament. Hanne pulled the Dutch Xandra Velzeboer into the boards with two laps to go. Stijn leaned into Dutchman Jens van 't Wout three laps from the line and went down.
"There was no reason to fall," said Hanne Desmet. "Maybe it was the ice. I felt good and was first. From those crashes, the pair went on to win two bronze medals in the 500m.
Belgian short track skaters Hanne Desmet and Stijn Desmet during a training session in May 2023 © BELGA PHOTO JILL DELSAUX