Two young Belgians crowned world beach volleyball champions


The Belgian duo of KU Leuven students Joppe Van Langendonck and Kyan Vercauteren won gold at the Beach U21 World Championships in Thailand.

This was a remarkable feat by the two Belgian students at the Beach U21 World Championships in the Thai town of Roi Et. Somewhat unexpectedly, they successively beat their Canadian, Thai and Ukrainian opponents in the group phase, then the Germans in the round of 16, the Chileans in the quarter-finals and the French, who were tournament favourites, in the semi-finals.  

In the end, it was the Austrian pair that managed to halt the excellent run of Joppe Van Langendonck, 20, and Kyan Vercauteren, 19.  

The two young Belgians, who are studying physiotherapy and chemistry respectively at KU Leuven, have only been training together for a short time on the sands of Leuven. They have obviously trained in the sport of volleyball, which they both play at club level in the national second division. 

Apart from being played two against two on the sand, beach volleyball follows the same rules as indoor volleyball played in teams of six. Beach volleyball has been a popular sport on Californian beaches for many decades, but it was not until the late 1990s that it became a professional sport, receiving greater media coverage and being included in the Olympic Games, first as a demonstration sport in 1992 in Barcelona and then as a full-fledged Olympic sport in 1996 in Atlanta. The discipline has not yet reached the same level of professionalism in Belgium as in other countries, but it is said to be booming.  

There's no doubt that this unique performance in the history of Belgian (beach) volleyball could be emulated in years to come. And perhaps we can even dream of an Olympic medal...