Speed skater Bart Swings wins 95th Belgian National Sports Merit Award
Speed skater and inline skater Bart Swings (32) is the winner of the 95th Belgian National Sports Merit Award, an annual award handed out to a Belgian sportsperson or -team for exceptional merit. Swings succeeds cyclist Remco Evenepoel.
The National Sports Merit Award has existed since 1928 and is awarded to an athlete or sports team that performed particularly well in the past year. A jury of sports champions chooses the winner. An athlete or team can win the award only once in their careers.
Bart Swings is a mainstay at the top level of speed skating. His speciality is the mass start event: this year, he became world champion in Heerenveen, the Netherlands. He also won Olympic gold at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, Belgium's second-ever gold medal the Winter Olympics.
"This award is a sign of recognition for his entire career"
His record further includes two European mass start titles, a mass start silver medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, three European allround medals and four bronze medals at several World Championships.
"What Bart did, is exceptional," said former athlete Kim Gevaert, who won the award in 2006. "Bart is just an extraordinary sportsman." "He has already achieved so much and keeps performing," added Jean-Michel Saive, president of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee. "This award is a sign of recognition for his entire career."
© Vincent Jannink / ANP / AFP