Memorial Van Damme in Brussels

The Memorial Van Damme, now in its 33 edition, takes place in the Brussels King Boudewijn Stadium tonight. It is an annual athletics event, and the highlight of the Belgian track and field season. The prestigious event attracts big names from all over the world. The big attraction this year is the participation of Usain Bolt from Jamaica.
Usain Bolt holds world records in the 100 and 200 meters races. Tonight Bolt will run the 200 meter (at 9:15 pm). This will undoubtedly be the highlight of the evening.
The star of the evening openly aims to run a top time for the 200 meter race.

"I'm running the 200m because I like to break the stadium record. 19'70 is my aim on Friday," Bolt is quoted as saying on the website of the main sponsor Belgacom.

He added, "Don't panic. I'm in good shape still. In Zurich I was tired, but I have been resting a lot since then."

Gay opts for the 100 meter

Tyson Gay of the United States has chosen to run the 100m race.

He wanted to run against Bolt, but due to an injury he has opted for the 100 meter.

Gay will be competing with four other athletes who have managed a time of under 10 seconds this year: Gay 9.71, Powell 9.84, Patton 9.94, Rodgers 9.94 and Clarke 9.99.

Burka is going for the 2000m World Record

Ethiopian Gelete Burka is aiming to break the world record in the 2000m after her unfortunate fall in the World Athletics Championships in Berlin. After this she set herself the goal of breaking the 2000m at the Memorial Van Damme. The record has been held by Sonia O'Sullivan since July 1994.

Jeremy Wariner aims to break Michael Johnson's record

The legendary Michael Johnson has held the record in the 400m since 1998 with a time of 44.06. It is Jeremy Wariner's dream to break his mentor's record at the prestigious Memorial Van Damme.

Jeremy Wariner won the 400m in the King Boudewijn Stadium in 2006 (44.29) as well as in 2008 (44.44). He has a few tenths of a second to shave off yet...

Our Belgians on the track

Competing against Usain Bolt is the Belgian Joris Haeck. He is one of 9 sprinters to take part in this event.

Olivia Borlée (photo) is competing in the 100m ladies race. Elisabeth Davin and Eline Berings are in the 100 meter hurdles..

Other Belgians to look out for tonight are Damien Broothaerts and Antoine Gillet in the 400m.

Krijn Van Koolwijk and Pieter Desmet are participating in the 3000m steeple chase. Thomas Smet and Tom Goyvaerts are taking a go at the javelin and Svetlana Bolshakova is competing in the triple jump for women.

The programme for the 33rd edition of the Memorial Van Damme

The programme for the 33rd edition of the Memorial Van Damme starts at 5:55 pm with the 80m boys’ race, followed by an 80m girls’ race.

Following that are the girls and boys 300m, 1000m and 4x80m relay races.

A 100m Wheelchair Cup precedes the Opening Ceremony, which is scheduled to start at 7:05 pm.

In memoriam of Ivo Van Damme, who died at the height of his career

The Memorial Van Damme was first organised in 1977 by a group of journalists in honour of Ivo van Damme, a Belgian double medal winner at the 1976 Montreal Olympics who was killed later that year in a car accident at the age of 22.  A former footballer, he turned to athletics and in particular the 1500m and 3000m disciplines. Later on added the 800m. In the Montreal Olympic Games he won silver medals in the 800m and 1500m.