Belgium take first Olympic medal

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The women’s 4x100m relay team has clinched the first medal for Belgium.

22 August 2008

BEIJING – The four Belgian sprinters in the Olympic women's 4x100m relay final has clinched the first medal for Belgium.

The Belgian team won a silver medal, with Russia claiming the gold. Jamaica dropped the baton at the second change and were out of the race. Great Britain also failed to finish the race.

This is the first medal for Belgium in the Beijing Games. It is also a national record for the Belgian team.

After a couple of frustrating fourth places in the men's madison and in the football tournament, relief among Belgian sports fans was huge when Belgium's sprint queen Kim Gevaert crossed the line to take the silver for Belgium.

Olivia Borlée was the first to run. She was followed by Hanna Mariën, Elodie Ouedraogo and Kim Gevaert.

Unlike other teams, the Belgian women put a lot of training in the relay run in order to avoid "accidents" at the three changes.

The icing on the cake (twice)
For Kim Gevaert, the European champion in both the 100 and 200 metres individual races, the silver is the perfect end of a long career.

Gevaert had never taken an Olympic medal and had skipped the 200 metres in Beijing to concentrate on the relay race. Gevaert is nursing a lingering Achilles injury and didn't want to take any risks.

Gevaert will run a couple of outdoor races after the Olympics and will maybe add a few indoor races next winter, but will put a stop to her career later as she wants to start a family. The athlete from Kampenhout in Flemish Brabant turned 30 earlier in August.

The Belgian team is very closely-knitted. Gevaert and Ouedraogo have known each other for a long time and both trained at the same club in Leuven, in Flemish Brabant.

The Belgian record of 42.54 seconds was the icing on the cake.

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