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Nina Druel Heads Largest Olympic Delegation Upon Departure: “My Games Can Also Succeed Without A Gold Medal” |  the Olympics

Nina Druel Heads Largest Olympic Delegation Upon Departure: “My Games Can Also Succeed Without A Gold Medal” | the Olympics

If you put one foot in Zaventem tonight around 5.30pm, it was really noticeable. A Yellow Corps seized the departure hall and check-in tables at Brussels Airport. All dressed in yellow training clothes, the bulk of our Olympic delegation – 37 out of 121 athletes and coaching staff – left for Tokyo. Of course, this led to a lot of press, but also a lot of political visitors. Prime Minister Alexander de Croo (Open VLD) and Flemish Sports Minister Ben Wittes (N-VA) came to cheer on the Olympians.

Among them is the biggest – if not the biggest – contender for the Medal of Honor: Nina Druel. The spearhead of the gymnastics team gave a relaxed impression: I enjoyed the yogurt and loved making time for photos and interviews. And it was also evident in her Instagram Stories, where she answered questions from her followers this afternoon: Druel is looking forward to it. “I was looking forward to being here today. However, I can’t believe that after that year of delay, we are finally leaving.”

The last preparatory match in Tokyo was a bit more difficult for Limburger. In the FIT Challenge at Ghent, she jumped wrongly in the playoffs and in the final also fell short of her Olympic goal of 15,400 points. Not exactly the best dress rehearsal. But doubts? Druel doesn’t have that at all. “I had really good preparations last week. I am happy with the level I have achieved in training over the past few weeks. I want to build on that in Tokyo.”

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To get a gold medal there? Druel held the boat somewhat. “Everything should go well on the same day. Gold is my dream of course, but if I do the exercise as I did in training and give everything I have, I will be satisfied without a gold medal.” Although of course Druel does everything in his power to be on top of the scaffold. Even the smallest details were thought through. “My brother gave me four clover leaves to wish me luck. And my beloved game is with me too, otherwise I can’t sleep at night (laughs).”

And away, Druel was toward the next – far from the last – interview. A few meters away, Mauri Vincivenant who was a little less busy, stood quietly leaning on his chariot. He could see the humor in the crowds. “You’re in luck, they’re all stacked here.” At the age of 22, Vincenante had just reached the top of the cycling stage and would be making his Olympic debut in ten days. “But I was able to sleep perfectly,” is what it sounds like in juicy West Flemish. “On the train here I fell asleep so much that I only woke up in the center of Brussels, while I had to change trains in the south of Brussels (laughs).” He sees himself as a helping hand in supporting the two leaders Evenbühl and Van Aert. “We have to play it as best we can with our strong selection. I believe in performing well, but we keep our feet on the ground. Then the medal will be more beautiful.”

Nor have we heard any big statements with the Belgian Tornado team, the 4x400m team including the Burley brothers and Jonathan Sakor. “We’re hoping for a medal, but we haven’t achieved anything yet, and the competition is definitely in good shape. The empty stadiums in Tokyo are a shame, but it really doesn’t make a big difference for us. We’re very focused on our game. We’ll take the fans’ support back home with us to The race. It gives us strength.”

After a final mandatory group photo was taken, the Yellow Legion left towards the gates to take off around 9.10pm. Tokyo, the Belgians are coming.

The whole delegation that left today:

Nina Derwell, Finn Engels, Jutta Vercast, Lisa Faylin, Noemi Lun, Melis Brassart (gymnastics)

Fanny LeClues, Louis Cronin (swimming)

Jonathan Burleigh, Kevin Burleigh, Dylan Burleigh, Jonathan Sakor, Camille Laus (4x400m)

Hahn Claes (400m hurdles)

Robin Vanderbden (200m)

Fanny Smits (Pole Vault)

Charlene van Snick, Juri Verstraiten (Judo)

Morey Vincendent, Lotte Kubicki, Valerie Demme, Julie van de Velde (cycling)

Getha Michaels, Jane Schurmans (mountain bike)

Rafael Bogarts, Nick Siles, Thierry Marin, Thibaut Vervoort, Jonas Fuertes (3×3)

Laure Brugman (skateboarding)

Jarno de Smedt (shooting)

Jill Janes and Martin Van Riel (triathlon)

Domain Michaels, Lawrence Ross, Larissa Paulius (Equestrian: Dressage)