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Three medals for Belgium in one day at Paralympic Games
Good news from Tokyo today: Belgian athletes have pulled down a gold and two bronze medals at the Paralympic Games. The Games kicked off on Tuesday, and Belgium hopes to follow up on its solid record of 11 medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Gold was won today by Michèle Georges (pictured) in individual dressage grade V following a flawless performance atop her horse Best of 8. It wasn’t really a surprise; the 47-year-old was a favourite in the event for which she won the silver four years ago.
She won the event with a score of 76.524, comfortably ahead of the silver medal-winning score of 74.405. Georges, who carried the flag for the Belgian team at the opening ceremony, is one of the country’s greatest Paralympic champions, with five medals now to her name, including four gold.
Manon Claeys provided Belgium with another dressage medal today, when she won bronze in individual grade IV. It is the first time Claeys has taken part in the Paralympics.
Another bronze was won by Griet Hoet, an indoor track tandem cyclist together with ‘pilot’ Anneleen Monsieur. Their third place in the 1,000m time trial was thanks to a time of 1:07.943, which was 2.652 seconds behind the first place finish.
‘Now is the time to stare’
Under the cheeky tagline “Now is the time to stare”, Belgium sent 26 athletes to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Others expected to medal are cyclist Tim Celen, in either the road race or time trials (or both); Olympic gold medallist Laurens Devos, who no one can beat in singles table tennis class 9; Florian Van Acker, also reigning gold medallist in table tennis, in the individual class 11; and tennis player Joachim Gérard, who won the wheelchair singles at Wimbledon last month.
One athlete who was well on his way to a gold medal was disqualified this morning. It was a stunning upset for cyclist Ewoud Vromant, who holds the world record in men’s individual pursuit class C2, which he pulverised in the qualifying round this morning. But he was disqualified from the final gold-medal round for not using the seat of his bicycle.
Vromant became emotional when speaking to the press afterwards. “This is really difficult to process,” he said. “According to the UCI, I didn’t use the seat of my bicycle, which is required for safety purposes. I do not agree with this decision.”
Using video footage of the race, Team Belgium tried to prove that Vromant had used his seat, but to no avail. “I am so disappointed,” said Vromant. “I was so close.”
Photo ©Jasper Jacobs/BELGA