Joy and tears for the Belgian delegation at the European athletics championships in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday. 400 metres top ace Jonathan Borlée sustained an injury in the warm-up just before the final. He was in tears as he was forced to throw in the towel. His father and coach Jacques Borlée said he believed he could win. He was motivated to follow in the footsteps of his twin brother Kevin Borlée, who clinched the European gold 4 years ago, but had to retire.
Nafi Thiam wiped out the new Belgian disappointment later in the evening, by securing a bronze medal. The daughter of a Belgian mother - a former top athlete - and a Senegalese father, Thiam had ended the first day in pole-position. She dropped to second place after the long jump and to third spot after the javelin throw, but eventually secured the podium in the final event, the 800m. This is not her specialty, but she managed a personal best by running 2:20.79 to retain third position.
France's Antoinette Djimou took the gold, collecting 6,551 points after a staggering performance in the javelin throw. Dutchwoman Nadine Broersen had to be content with the silver as she had 6,498 points. Thiam had 6,423 and resisted a late challenge by Germany's Carolin Schäfer (6,395 points).
The youngest of the pack
Thiam turns 20 next Tuesday and was the youngest athlete of the heptathlon pack. She is ambitious for the future. "This is great start. But don't expect too much of me now. Don't expect me to go for a medal on each major event. I want to develop at my own pace."
Thiam's coach Roger Lespagnard, the Burgomaster of Fléron, said that a lot more had been possible if Thiam would not have been battling a light leg injury. "I am convinced she would have taken the gold if she had been 100 per cent fit."