Despite a year 2020 disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore the cancellation of many competitions, the Belgian Paralympic Committee made a point of presenting its awards to the athletes and the ceremony, marked by the presence of Eddy Merckx, was held this Friday in Brussels.
“We have really noticed in recent years a big increase in the general level of athletes, explained the Belgian chef de mission for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Olek Kazimirowski. More and more sportsmen from our country are going to seek medals in the European and world championships. We had a special year but we still wanted to do something for our athletes and for our community. ”
With in the end three categories planned: the performances of the year for women and men accompanied by the title “Engie” which rewards a young talent. In this last category, it is the young swimmer from Stavelot (16 years old), Tatyana Lebrun, who returned home with the trophy: “I am happy and surprised with this award. During last year’s lockdown, I stayed home for two or three months. Then thanks to the Ligue Handisport Francophone and Adeps, I was able to resume training three times a week at Blanc Gravier in Liège. In July with the reopening of the swimming pools, I was able to return to my club. Before the second wave of Covid-19, I had the opportunity to participate in a competition to see the times I was achieving. When the pools closed for the second time, I was able to swim three more times a week. And it’s only since the beginning of February that I can train normally at my club in Saint-Vith. ” With the key to a clear improvement in his times and a stopwatch over 100 meters breaststroke which could allow him to claim the Tokyo Games if he is improved by a second and a half. “My goal was the Paris Games in 2024 but if I can go to Tokyo …”
In terms of performance of the year for men, it was cyclist Ewoud Vroman who won the prize. Amputated of a leg, the latter became world champion at the World Para-cycling track in Canada. He took the top step of the podium in the individual pursuit (3km), during which he also broke the world record. For women, the trophy went to the duo Griet Hoet and Anneleen Monsieur, specialists in track para-cycling. At the start of 2020, during the worlds, the tandem won two medals, silver in the sprint (which is not on the program for the Tokyo 2020 Games) and bronze in the individual pursuit over 3 kilometers.
The final word going to Anne d’Ieteren, president of the Belgian Paralympic Committee: “2020 has been a very difficult year, also for our athletes. In addition to having to put their Paralympic dream on hold, they saw their sports calendar gradually empty. However, many of them stood out. We had been reluctant for several years to switch to individual prices. Today, medalists are systematically honored in the media, by their respective sports disciplines and federations, etc. We also note an increase in performance at the highest level. This is positive, of course, but it is all the more difficult to celebrate everyone once again during a tribute evening. Of course, the purpose of the event will always be to salute the exceptional results of all of our athletes. But the award ceremony increases the growth potential of the Paralympic Sport Awards. ”
Relive the ceremony: