Thirty-two (32) Belgian athletes will compete from Saturday to 18 October in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, representing Belgium in 20 sports. This third edition of the global youth games will host 4,000 athletes aged 15 to 18 years.
“It’s important for our young athletes to be able to have international experience in multidisciplinary competitions,” said Gert Van Looy, head of mission of the Belgian Inter-Federal Olympic Committee, COIB. “During the Youth Olympic Games, the athletes are in contact with young people of the same age, who practice other sports and come from other countries. These experiences are particularly enriching for them.”
Henri Demesmaeker has been designated flag-bearer for the opening ceremony. The 17-year-old skipper, whose specialty is the Nacra 15 catamaran, is coached by Sebastian Godefroid, silver medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and flag-bearer of the Belgian squad in Beijing in 2008. Henri Demesmaeker and Frédérique Van Eupen are world champions in the Nacra 15 class.
The opening ceremony of the games will not be held in a stadium but, for the first time, in a public place, the Plaza de la Republica in the Argentine capital.
The first Youth Olympics took place in Singapore in 2010, followed by Nanjing, China, in 2014. Belgium brought back five medals from the small Asian republic. Gold went to Lola Mansour (judo) and the girls’ volleyball team. Toma Nikiforov won silver in judo, while bronze went to Hermien Peters (kayak) and the boys’ hockey team.
In China, six Belgians mounted onto the podium. Indra Craen (taekwondo) and Luka Van Den Keybus (artistic gymnastics) won silver, while there were four bronze medallists: Chloë Beaucarne (athletics), Jorre Verstaraeten (judo), Laura Roebben (taekwondo) and Si Mohamed Ketbi (taekwondo).