Athletics Swimming Book 100 years
Greet Vergult
Fri 28 Oct '22 Top athlete in both swimming and athletics ! 1993-2009: The golden period in the water with Vergult, Van Osselaer, Adriaenssens
As early as 1938, the first Belgian championships were organised. Here, Belgium lagged behind the neighbouring countries, which were involved from the beginning. Little by little we were able to conquer a few with good times (silver in 49 with Alfons Willems (K.D.S. Antwerpen) in breaststroke and 2 in 3 meter diving in 1949 and 1953) but most of ours were in the underdog and not enough for the podium until René Dubuisson (D.H.C. Kortrijk) (participant in the Silent Games of Washington 1965) became Technical Director and approached his relations in the world of able-bodied swimming...

And in 1993 in Sofia (Bulgaria) at the 17th World Games, 17-year-old Koen Adriaenssens (K.D.S. Antwerpen), 15-year-old Greet Vergult (K.D.S. Antwerpen) and Elli Van Osselaer, just 14 years old (K.D.S. Antwerpen), appeared at the front. For their first encounter with the deaf world, they all reached the finals and became even stronger... Ellie, 14 years old, became the youngest Belgian medalist in history! From then on, a golden period started with these three, sometimes assisted by a few good swimmers, but it is especially these three who gave us wonderful moments at the World Games / Deaflympics, the European and World Championships with a wheelbarrow full of medals!

Greet is the only one of these three to have won gold at the World Games, but in total they won 1 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze in four World Games / Deaflympics! Furthermore, Belgium organised the first World Championships in 1995 in Bruges, where Koen and Ellie won two world titles! With also 1 silver and 6 bronze medals (5 of which for Greet) these World Championships were a success. Belgium finished 4th in the medal table behind the USA, Ireland and Russia but ahead of other big powers such as Italy, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands! At the next World Championships in 2007, Koen won another gold medal plus silver and bronze.

Greet retired after 1997 and switched to athletics where she also won some medals. Studies prevented her from participating everywhere, so the 7th European Championships 1998 were less, with 1 silver and 1 bronze, but at the 8th European Championships 2002 it was 1 gold, 2 silver (including for the first time with a relay team) and 3 bronze. After that, the slope went down and no new swimmers came forward. Koen was the only one who lasted until 2009 and at the 9th European Championships in 2006 it was 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze with him and the same at the 2nd World Championships in 2007. He still participated in the 21st Deaflympics 2009 but only reached the finals. With that, this beautiful swimming story came to an end... Without forgetting that Koen is the last Belgian medallist at the Deaflympics since 2005 and that he was, together with table tennis player Mathieu Loicq (S.C.S. Tournaisis), the only deaf athlete to have won the Victor Boin national trophy (2006).

The 1996 Olympic champion in the 100-metre breaststroke, Frederik (Fredje) Deburghgraeve, was a competitor of Koen's at the Belgian Championships at that time. And in 1996 Belgium had two world record holders in the 100m breaststroke! Koen with the deaf and Fred Deburghgraeve with the able-bodied!

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