Belgian hockey players are Olympic champions. In the final, Australia was defeated after a penalty shootout: 3-2. After four quarters the score was 1-1. With the gold medal, the trophy cabinet of the Belgian team was completed: they had already become world and European champions.
On Thursday, Belgian Florent Van Oppel opened the scoring for New Zealand national coach Shane McLeod and his Dutch assistant, Michael van den Heuvel, after more than half an hour of playing. Australia equalized in the 48th minute, then the two teams kept each other.
In the shootout, the decision came in Australia’s last game; Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanach makes two saves – primarily a VAR intervention – to give his country the first gold medal in hockey in Olympic history. Five years ago in Rio, Belgium lost in the final to Argentina (2-4), and in 1920 there was bronze at the Games in Antwerp.
special sports project
Almost three years ago, Belgian hockey players became world champions for the first time, even after penalty shootouts. Then the Netherlands were defeated in the World Cup final in Bhubaneswar, India, after a goalless match. This was the temporary culmination of a story that began in 2005. The Dutchman Bert Wintink was then appointed Technical Director of the Royal Belgian Hockey Association (KBHB). Newly appointed President Marc Codron tasked him with bringing Belgium to the top of the world.
Weentink founded the best sports project “Be Gold”, which was aimed at providing training for hockey talents for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Unique in the history of Belgian team sport. The best possible conditions were created, not only for the national (young) teams, but also for the clubs. “We basically worked to create a good, healthy infrastructure, including good coaches for everyone,” President Codron said in November 2018. Norwegian Refugee Council.
Silver in Rio turned to gold in Tokyo after all. After the games, Michael van den Heuvel will replace McLeod as national coach. His job is to keep the Belgian national team on top of the world.
More on Marc Codron’s career and ambitions: Belgium wants more than just a podium
This article is also part of our live blog: Olympic gold medal for Belgian hockey players after defeating Australia
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