- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Double gold medal success for Belgium as Nafi Thiam and Red Lions crowned Olympic champions
Nafi Thiam is the first Belgian athlete to retain an Olympic title after she took gold in the heptathlon at the Tokyo games on Thursday.
The 26-year-old won her second consecutive gold medal after scoring 6791 points in the gruelling two-day competition. She beat Dutch competitors Anouk Vetter (6689) and Emma Oosterwegel (6590), with fellow Belgian Noor Vidts (6571) narrowly missing out on a bronze medal.
Defending champion Thiam was third on the leaderboard after completing the first three disciplines on Wednesday. Dominant performances in the long jump and javelin on Thursday propelled her into first place and ensured a sufficient margin before a seventh place finish in the 800m final event.
In an emotional interview following her victory, Thiam said that she had experiences highs and lows over the past two years. “I’ve had physical problems and mentally I also wasn’t always in a good place.” Admitting to fatigue, she told RTBF that she needed a holiday and wasn’t thinking yet about the 2024 games.
Teammate Vidts put in a plucky run to win her 800m heat. Despite missing out on a podium position, the 25 year-old was celebrating her outstanding fourth place.
Belgium’s Red Lions claim first gold
Belgium’s Red Lions beat Australia in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to take the coveted gold medal in the men’s hockey tournament.
With the score 1-1 after full-time, five players from each team had eight seconds to score against the opposition goalkeeper. After Australia’s Kookaburras missed a third penalty, the Belgian side started to celebrate.
Then the referee called for the video umpire to decide whether the Belgian goalkeeper had committed a foul. It was an agonising five minutes before the decision came back that the gold medal was still in play. The Australian player had another attempt, but missed his retake.
The Red Lions were finally Olympic champions, bettering their silver medal performance in Rio in 2016.
Belgium now boasts five medals, including three golds.
Photos: Nafi Thiam with the Belgian flag after second Olympic heptathlon gold © Belga/Benoît Doppagne; Belgium’s Red Lions men’s hockey team celebrating first Olympic gold © Belga/Dirk Waem