Belgian hockey players Olympic champions. In the final, Australia lost after a shoot-out: 3-2. The score was 1-1 after four quarters. With the gold medal, the Belgian team’s cabinet ended: they had previously become world and European champions.
On Thursday, Belgian Florent van Abel opened the scoring after playing for more than half an hour for New Zealand national coach Shane McLeod and his Dutch assistant Michael van Den Heuvel. Australia equalized in the 48th minute, after which both teams drew level.
In the shoot-out, batting for Australia came to an end; Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanach made two saves – the video referee intervened for the first time – giving his country the first hockey gold in Olympic history. Five years ago in Rio, Belgium lost to Argentina in the final (2-4), winning bronze at the 1920 Games in Antwerp.
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Nearly three years ago, the Belgian hockey players became world champions for the first time since the shoot-out. The Netherlands then lost in a goalless draw in the World Cup final in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar. This is the temporary climax of a story that began in 2005. Bert Venting, a Dutchman, was later appointed technical director of the Royal Belgian Hockey Association (KBHB). He was tasked by newly appointed President Mark Goutron to bring Belgium to the forefront of the world.
Venting established ‘Pee Gold’, the best sports program to train hockey skills for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Belgian team is unique in the history of the game. Great conditions were created not only for the national (youth) teams but also for the clubs. “We have been instrumental in establishing a good and healthy infrastructure for all, including good trainers,” President Goodran said in November 2018. NRC.
Rio’s silver has turned to gold in Tokyo. After the game, Michael van den Huewell will replace McLeod as national coach. His job is to keep the Belgium team at the top of the world.
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This article is part of our live blog: Olympic gold for Belgian hockey players after victory against Australia
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