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Belgian Bullets ... The Story

 

Bobsleigh in Belgium - how it started?

Bobsleigh officially became a sport in 1897 with the creation of the first club in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland. Already before the First World War, bobsleigh was introduced in Belgium, in the region of Spa - Malchamps, with a first race at the end of January 1911. There were 35 bobsleds at the start, and the track had a length of 1700 meters that was built on the Route de la Sauvenière (between Malchamps and Le champ de Courses).

In 1913, the first Belgian Bobsleigh Club was founded by Jean Simonis (chairman) and J. Houben (vice-chairman).

At the Olympic Games in 1924, bobsleigh became an Olympic sport, Belgium won the bronze medal.

Later in 1929 competitions were held near Spa on the Rexhons track, where horses were used to bring the sled back upstairs. The first real bobsleigh track came in December 1938 with a length of 1000 meters, a width of 1.80 meters and a decrease of 14%.

In 1924 the Belgian four-man bob won a bronze medal in Chamonix with Charles Mulder, René Mortiaux, Paul Van den Broeck and Victor Verschuren, Henri Willems went as a reserve.

In 1948 won silver medal in St. Moritz in the four-man bob with pilot Max Houben and pushers Freddy Mansveld, Louis-Georges Niels and Jacques Mouvet.

A new start in 2007 - The BELGIAN BULLETS

What seemed like a crazy idea in 2007 was taken up by Geert Vanvaerenbergh as a challenge: bringing a bobsleigh team to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Geert convined six Flemish ladies, that have never seen a bobsleigh, and that there is no excuse not to qualify for the bobsleigh competition in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The athletes were being prepared by top coach Rudi Diels and the scientific team of the KU Leuven in a complete program with three consecutive goals: the first European Cup in Winterberg, then the World Championship in Lake Placid to finish with a qualification for the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

An Olympic qualification is enforced in 8 World Cup races in which Belgium has to cross the finish line at least twice as eighth. In the end, former spear-thrower Elfje Willemsen and former hurdle-walker Eva Willemarck secured a ticket to Vancouver, where they achieved a magnificent 14th place. The general public was able to follow the entire process closely thanks to the triptych program that Canvas has broadcast on this subject.

After Vancouver a new challenge was taken, this time to the Winter Games in Sochi. A new top athlete was hired for this: the silver medal Hanna Mariën (Peking - 2008 - 4 x 100m relay). And yes, here too the team succeeded: with a top-8 place as goal, the ladies finished in sixth place, after they had been in fourth place for some time. Hanna also realized her dream of being the first Belgian athlete to participate in both the Summer Games and the Winter Games.

The Belgian Bullets were working hard on the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018. For the first time we had 2 bobsleigh teams selected and one Skeletoni.

Elfje Willemsen for her third time at the Olympic Winter Games together with Sara Aerts, top athlete in heptathlon,  as brakewomen became 11th.

Our new pilot An Vannieuwenhuyse with Sophie Vercruyssen as brakewomen became 12th.

Belgium was for the first time in the discipline Skeleton at the Olympic Winter Games  in Pyeongchang with Kim Meylemans and she became 14th.

Today we are all working hard to prepare the next Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022.

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