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Belgium has 12 medals at Paralympics, with four days to go
Belgian athletes have now earned 12 medals at the Paralympics, following another seven won this week. The Paralympic Games continue until 5 September.
Following up on the gold and two bronze medal wins we reported last week, Belgium now has an additional two gold medals, two silver and another five bronze. With four days left to go, the Paralympic team has already surpassed its 11-medal haul of the previous Paralympics in Rio.
Yesterday the athletes won five medals, the biggest haul in one day since 1992. And the day before, Michèle George became the second most decorated female Belgian Paralympian, after she won the sixth medal of her career. Not only that, it was a gold.
The equestrian won gold last week in individual dressage, and again this week in individual freestyle, together with her horse Best of 8. While the first required riders to perform a pre-choreographed routine, the second allows riders to choreograph their own routines, with required elements. George won the event with an excellent score of 80.590.
Michèle George is one of Belgium’s most successful Paralympic athletes ever ©Rob Walbers/BELGA
“I am blown away!” said George, 47, following her second gold medal win. “It’s a magical night. I’m actually speechless. My horse is amazing. I arrived here with a young horse, and she has shown the world what she is capable of. I thought that it was maybe a bit too early for the Games. At home, she was in perfect form, but it’s different performing here, in the heat, following an exhausting journey. So this is really fantastic.”
Also winning gold this week was class 9 table tennis player Laurens Devos, defending his gold medal from the 2016 Games. At only 21, we can expect to see more medals from Devos in the future. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I was actually doing that well in earlier rounds, I felt really nervous in every match. But I’m happy with my performance in the final, I felt more relaxed. I’m so happy with the gold because I honestly hadn’t expected it.”
Winning silver medals, meanwhile, were Peter Genyn in the class T51 200m and cyclist Ewoud Vromant in the C2 time trial. It was a relief for Vromant, who had been disqualified last week from the individual pursuit class C2 – in which he holds the world record – for not using his bicycle seat.
And Belgium is killing in the bronze medal table, with wins this week going to Manon Claeys for individual freestyle dressage – her second bronze in these Games – Florian Van Acker for class 11 table tennis, cyclist Tim Celen for class T1-2 time trial, cyclist Maxime Hordies for class H1 time trial and Roger Habsch for the class T51 200m. Hordies came in third to Geny's second in the T51, which sees athletes racing in pimped-out three-wheel wheelchairs.
Belgium has not performed this well at the Summer Paralympics since 1996, when it won 25 medals. With more and more countries sending athletes to the Games, the competition is much tougher now than it was 25 years ago.
Photo top: ©Jasper Jacobs/BELGA