Hanne and Stijn Desmet triumph in speed skating


Hanne Desmet and her brother won five medals at the European Short Track Championships: gold in the 1,000-metre race, and silver in the 1,500-metre and in the mixed relay.

Unlike speed skating, where competitors race alone against the clock, short track sees several skaters compete on the track at the same time and involves qualifying laps. In this discipline, it is the position at the finish line that counts and the competitors who finish first move on to the next round. There are usually four to six skaters per race who compete first in heats, then quarter-finals, semi-finals and lastly the final.

Hanne Desmet and her younger brother Stijn finished second in the 1,500 metre race in Gdańsk, Poland, where the European Short Track Championships were held. The next day, they both won the European title in the 1,000 metres within a few hours of each other. Hanne managed to beat title-holder and Olympic champion Suzanne Schulting and the Hungarian Petra Jászapáti, while in the men's category, Stijn triumphed over the Dutchman Jens van 't Wout and the Turk Furkan Akar.

To finish the European Championships on a high, the two Belgian skaters won a fifth medal, silver this time, in the mixed relay. Supported in this race by Tineke den Dulk and Ward Pétré, the Belgian team finished behind the Netherlands, but ahead of Italy in third place.

A total of five medals were awarded to Belgium during this international competition.