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Belgian Olympic skating hopes take early blow

13 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Belgium’s two short-track speed skaters have failed to live up to their ambitions in the 1,500m event at the Turin Winter Olympics.

Both Pieter Gysel (in the semi-final) and Wim De Deyne (in the preliminary round) were disqualified over the weekend.

Gysel, 25, finished 4th in his semi-final, but only the top two-place getters qualified for the final. Moreover, Gysel was disqualified after failing to skate outside one of the rubber markers as required.

The 28-year-old De Deyne was surprisingly eliminated in the first round.

While languishing in last place, he also collided with a rival skater as he tried to overtake him and was disqualified by the jury after the race ended.

Unimpressed by the jury’s decision, De Deyne said he was disillusioned with the result, but has a chance to claim revenge in the 500m on Wednesday 22 February.

Meanwhile, veteran Belgian skater Bart Veldkamp, 38, performed admirably on Saturday in his 5th Olympics, finishing 15th in the 5,000m.

The former Dutchman who applied for a Belgian passport completed the race in a time of  6:32:02, much slower than his personal best of 6:23. However, it was three seconds quicker than his season’s best.

Belgium sent just four athletes to the 2006 Olympic Games. Flag bearer and figure skater Kevin Van der Perren is perhaps the best known and be in action on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old from Ninove (East Flanders) finished 7th at the European Championships and Belgian Olympic Committee (BOIC) spokesman Renno Roelandt said he is aiming for a top 10 spot and possibly a place in the top six.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news