Day 4 - Full grandstands on a radiant day

Day 4 - Full grandstands on a radiant day

What happens when living sports legends pay a visit to the Special Olympics European Summer Games 2014?

This Wednesday afternoon, Eddy Merckx , Belgian sportsman of the century and Paul Van Himst, former coach of the Belgian national football team, were welcomed as heroes not only by the athletes but also by a crowd of enthusiastic supporters. Merckx availed himself of the opportunity to underline the social importance of an organization like the Special Olympics European Summer Games 2014. Yesterday, its importance was also illustrated thanks to a routine screening of an athlete’s foot at the Healthy Athletes Centre. It revealed a life threatening injury, and a person’s life was probably saved.

All cameras on living legends

Lots of people in each location of the Special Olympics European Summer Games 2014 today! Especially in Het Rooi (Berchem) and in Balendijk (Lommel) the public showed up in large numbers. Of course, the presence of Eddy Merckx and Paul Van Himst was an additional booster. Both celebrities were very friendly and lenient with press and photographers, and with supporters who wanted a selfie or autograph.

Eddy Merckx, elected Belgian sportsman of the century in 2000 and member of the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games awarded medals to the winning cyclists on stage. He did not hide his admiration for their performances, and also emphasized the positive influence of this happening on society: “The focus is not on the disabilities of the athletes, but on their joy and passion that they share with everyone. Their motivation is an example for many other people. The fantastic work that the many volunteers do here is also commendable.”.


Full grandstands

Another duo today to capture the attention were the twins Alastair and Duncan Feltham, who played against each other at table tennis. Alastair finally won with three sets to two. The two 46-year-old British athletes have become well-known Special Olympics athletes in their home country. Belgian ambassador Christian Leclerc easily won his game in the 10th division against the German athlete Oliver Burbach.

In the Sports centre of Den Uyl in Mol, Evy Ploegaerts, the ambassador of the Belgian delegation won the 800 meters race, a few milliseconds after Vasiliki Katsovodi, who won gold in 3:37:28 for Greece. The Belgian Erik Wenseleers was the first to cross the finish line on the 800 meters for men. Here too, the grandstands were as good as full.

Finally, a lot of people turned up at Antwerp Expo as well for the visit of the Province Governor Cathy Berx, who remitted the medals to the badminton athletes.

All results and the sports calendar are on line at:

Focus on health

An essential aspect of this tournament is the health of the participants. In this respect the Healthy Athletes Program proved to be more than useful yesterday. In this centre, athletes have free access to a whole range of medical care and services such as dentistry, vision care, audiology, physiotherapy, podiatry, osteopathy. In the podiatry unit, one of the foot specialists discovered a toe nail with a female athlete* which was growing into the flesh. It had already caused a very bad inflammation that could have caused death if not cured properly in due time.

Carine Haemels, president of the International Federation of specialists in podiatry and Regional Consultant to the Fit Feet Program of the Special Olympics European Summer Games 2014 explains : ”We noticed a necrosis. Untreated, the blood of the athlete could have been poisoned within three days, which could cause death. We consequently referred the athlete to a specialist right away, and this way her life was probably saved. You should know that people with an intellectual disability have a different pain sensation and in the end may not feel the pain any more. This way, it often happens that health problems are not revealed timely. A case like this proves that our work is very useful.”

*For reasons of privacy of the concerned athlete, we cannot publish more details. Thank you for your understanding. This incident is an illustration of the efficiency of the program, rather than a personal story about one specific athlete.

Thursday September 18: competitions approach their climax

Tomorrow is day 5 of the Special Olympics European Summer Games2014, and several competitions are slowly reaching their climax. In athletics, we are looking forward to the finals in the 100 meters sprint and the long jump event. Football and basketball will see their last matches in the Round Robin system (each team plays against each of the other teams), and in judo and gymnastics finals are scheduled as well.

In the field of gastronomy, maître chocolatier Dominique Persoons, the man who taught the Rolling Stones to sniff chocolate, is making his appearance in the Olympic Town in the Unified Cooking restaurant.


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