Ivo Van Damme, one of the greatest hopes of Belgian athletics
In the summer of 1976, Ivo Van Damme lit up the Olympic track in Montreal, a double medal winner at the age of just 22. The peak of his career and the start of his legend.
Until the age of 16, Ivo Van Damme played football before switching to athletics. In 1976, he won two silver medals at the Olympic Games in Montreal, over 1500 and 800 metres. He still holds the Belgian record for 800 metres at 1:43.86, a time achieved during the final in Montreal.
He died in a road accident on 29 December 1976 as he was returning from a training camp.
To honour his memory, in 1977, a group of journalists created the Van Damme Memorial. This is an athletics meeting that takes place every year at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. Since 2010, the Van Damme Memorial has appeared on the Diamond League programme. This is the annual athletics competition organised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which every year crowns winners in 16 athletics disciplines and is the successor to the Golden League. This event is considered as one of the best meetings in the world, attracting a large number of stars. Records are regularly broken, particularly in the distance and middle-distance races. 17 world records have been broken during the 37 Brussels meetings to date. The name of Ivo Van Damme therefore lives on in the history of Belgian and world athletics.