In less than 2 months, the Olympic flame will be lit in Tokyo. Which Belgian athletes are already there for sure in the Japanese capital and which Belgians still have a chance? In this Olympic week we made an overview.
Three Belgian relay teams on the 4×400 meters (Belgian Tornados, Belgian Cheetahs and the mixed team) will be there. Eight individual athletes can already prepare their trip to Japan.
Bashir Abdi, Dieter Kersten, Koen Naert, Mieke Gorissen and Hanne Verbruggen will run the marathon in Sapporo. Isaac Kimeli (5,000 and 10,000m), Ben Broeders (pole vault), Hanne Claes (400m hurdles) and Nafi Thiam (heptathlon, long and high jump) also met the Olympic limit.
The other Belgians can still qualify for Tokyo in 2 ways: either they meet the limit on their number or they are high enough in the ranking (WR) on June 29th. These Belgians are currently in a position that entitles them to an Olympic ticket.
Jolien D’hoore and Lotte Kopecky compete in the women’s team race in Tokyo. One of them will also participate in the omnium. The Belgians are also present at the same numbers for the men.
More than likely Kenny De Ketele and Robbe Ghys will drive the team race, who will take care of the omnium has yet to be decided.
And then Nicky De Locke can still hope a little bit for Tokyo. The world champion keirin of 2019 has to count on the forfait of others.
The qualifying period will close on June 15. The top 38 of the Olympic ranking (2 participants per country from the top 16, then 1 participant per country) may participate. Lianne Tan can gradually pack her bags, because she is in 24th place.
The Belgian Cats are one of the spearheads of the Belgian Olympic team. The Belgian basketball women are allowed to go to the Olympic Games for the first time, they qualified in their own country in 2020. In the group stage they will meet Australia, China and Puerto Rico.
Only 8 men’s and 8 women’s teams are allowed to compete in Tokyo. With the men, Belgium still has a chance to be there. There are still 3 Olympic tickets ready for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Austria this week. A very last chance in Hungary may follow at the beginning of June. That’s where the last team can place itself.
On June 13, 15 couples will secure a place in the Olympic tournament via the Olympic ranking. Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle are only in 25th place in that cleaned-up ranking and therefore only have a chance to reach Tokyo via the last European qualifying tournament in Scheveningen at the end of June. There is a ticket ready for the winner of the tournament.
Delfine Persoon had to put away her Olympic dream, but a few Belgians still have a chance at the European qualifying tournament in Paris (4/6-8/6). Mohamed Rachem (-69kg), Lancelot Proton de la Chapelle (-75kg), Ziad El-Mohor (-81kg) and Victor Schelstraete (-91kg) are still in the running for Tokyo.
Belgium as a team could not yet qualify for the Olympic Games. Ben Adriaensen, Jarno De Smedt and Senna Roos are trying to change that at the European Archery Championships in Turkey from May 31 to June 6. If the Belgians fail to do so, they will have one last chance at Olympic qualification in Paris at the end of June.
The qualification system for weightlifting is an inscrutable tangle, but according to coach Bieke Vandenabeele, Nina Sterckx can book her ticket for Tokyo. Because of that tangle there is also a chance that Anna Van Bellinghen may travel to Tokyo.
If Sterckx is in the top 8 of the world ranking on June 25 or is the best European outside that top 8, then she is sure. With her bronze medal at the European Championships and the silver at the World Junior Championships, Sterckx has done everything to reach the top 8.
That ranking is subject to restrictions imposed by some countries for doping violations. Because Vietnam was suspended, Sterckx ended up in 8th place in the ranking of the -49 kg today, according to Vandenabeele. That ranking would not change again.
There is a very good chance that Belgium will be allowed to send 3 golfers to the Olympic Games. With the men, Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry are in the top 60 of the Olympic ranking, with the women that applies to Manon De Roey. At the end of June, 21/6 for the men and 28/6 for the women, the ranking will be closed.
As European and world champions, the Red Lions are one of the favorites for Olympic gold in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the Red Panthers were unable to qualify, they lost to China after a shootout.
If the logic is respected, 4 Belgian judokas will travel to Japan for the Olympic Games. Charline Van Snick (6th in -52kg), Jorre Verstraeten (14th in -60kg), Matthias Casse (1st in -81kg) and Toma Nikiforov (15th in -100kg) are almost certainly placed due to their position in the Olympic ranking. They will receive certainty on June 28.
Two judokas have “bad luck”. Gabriella Willems was well on her way to qualifying, but tore the cruciate ligaments of her knee. Sami Chouchi is a victim of the rule that a country is only allowed to delegate 1 judoka per weight class and, just like Casse, he struggles in the -81 kilograms.
Lize Broekx and Hermien Peters had already qualified with their 4th place at the World Championship in 2019. They were joined by Artuur Peters in May on the boat to Tokyo.
Peters won the K1 1,000 meters at the Olympic qualifying tournament and is allowed to go to the Olympic Games just like four years ago. At the beginning of this week, Gabriel De Coster also received good news. The 20-year-old kayaker was fished for the K1 Olympics on the slalom.
Not a single Belgian could secure an Olympic starting ticket via the Olympic ranking. From 11 to 13 June they will have another chance in Paris at the Olympic qualifying tournament. The top 3 of each Olympic weight class will receive a ticket.
Belgium may delegate 1 man and 1 woman for the cross-country mountain bike. The ticket for the women seems to be ready for Githa Michiels, with the men Jens Schuermans and Pierre De Froidmont are still eligible.
open water swimming
Logan Vanhuys will get the chance to qualify for the Games on June 19 or 20 at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Setubal (Portugal). Vanhuys finished 15th at the World Cup in 2019, while only the top 10 earned a ticket for Tokyo.
The Belgian jumping team secured qualification by winning the European Championship in 2019. The selection has not yet been determined. The Belgian top 3 in the world ranking can already dream: Pieter Devos (5), Niels Bruynseels (11) and Jos Verlooy (18).
In addition, two Belgians will take part in horse riding. Karin Donckers can prepare for her sixth Olympic Games in eventing. Belgium also sends an rider in dressage: Laurence Roos.
Just like in Rio, Belgium has 1 rowing boat at the Olympics. Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe have been sure of their place in Tokyo for a while, they qualified at the 2019 World Cup.
The Belgian gymnasts booked their ticket for the team competition in Tokyo at the 2019 World Cup in Stuttgart. Nina Derwael is one of the Belgian medal hopes on the uneven bars and is – barring an injury – sure of her place in the selection. Which 3 gymnasts will accompany her will be announced later.
The Belgian Hammers won the Olympic qualifying tournament for the mixed relay in May. This allows Belgium to send 4 triathletes (2 men and 2 women) to Tokyo. Jelle Geens, Marten Van Riel, Claire Michel and Valerie Barthelemy forced the qualification and may be selected.
Belgium is going to the Olympic Games with 5 riders. Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert will take a shot at a medal in the time trial on Wednesday 28 July.
On Saturday 24 July they will also be at the start of the road race, they don’t know their 3 companions for that road race yet. In the women’s race, Belgium starts with 3 in the road race, one of them can also drive the time trial.
The Belgian flag will be displayed on two sailing boats in Enoshima. Emma Plasschaert follows in the footsteps of Evi Van Acker in the laser radial.
Isaura Maenhaut and Anouk Geurts are in the second sailboat. They captured the last European ticket in the 49er FX earlier this year. Wannes Van Laer still has a chance, if the Netherlands and Switzerland decide not to send a boat into the laser, then Van Laer can still go to Tokyo.
Only Louis Croenen (200 meters butterfly) and Fanny Lecluyse (100 and 200 meters breaststroke) have already met the Olympic limit. The other Belgians have until June 27 to reach the limit. In Rio there were still relay teams in the 4×100 and 4x200m freestyle, but at the European Championship the Belgian teams were unable to qualify.