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Judo veteran Ilse Heylen: From heaven to hell at Friday the 13th

13 May 2016 22:30

 Facebook Ilse Heylen    Emmeric Le Person
20160206_Paris_ELP_Ilse Heylen

Big differences today between medal winning athletes and those who came to the conclusion that Rio is far away, or so far away that another Olympic dream remains a dream. For Belgian veteran Ilse Heylen Friday the 13th seems to be the abrupt end of her long career. The 39 year old triple Olympian was on her way to her fourth Olympics when her development this year got stuck. Today her last defense lines was broken by the success of Swiss surprise Evelyne Tschopp who passed Heylen by her golden performance.

Heylen explains the situation with pain in her heart. “A few months ago everything looked bright. My performances were good and I felt I was almost qualified for my fourth consecutive Olympic Games, this time in Rio. The last weeks everything got more tense. My direct opponents collected points and I was unlucky, performed less and had a few tough draws. Last week I actually had a good match against World number three Erika Miranda. At this last qualification tournament for Rio in Almaty I had a few doom scenario that shouldn’t happen. Finnish Jaana Sundberg should’t win, or Swiss Tschopp shouldn’t reach the final. Writing the situation before the final block I realise that the Finnish fights for bronze, no problem, but Tschopp is in the final.”

It was Tschopp who won the gold afterall and Sundberg finished fifth, it was a devastating result for Heylen who couldn’t impress against Park Da Sol (KOR) who won bronze today.

Heylen: “It means, besides a miracle, no fourth Olympic Games for me. My plan was to end my international career in Rio, but it ends at May 13th. I finish with the worst place, that place that doesn’t give access to the Olympic Games. This comes so unexpected, while I love the game so much, it’s called competition. Today I am inconsolable, and with me Olivier (coach and husband) who’s gone through all of this as well. Some maybe happy, but obviously together we will get out of this situation stronger.“ 

Note: Obviously Ilse was not aware of human tragedies such as Stephanie Inglis whom she fought in 2009 at the British Open. Read more here

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Related Judo Photos

  • Ilse Heylen (BEL) - Grand Prix Havana (2016, CUB) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Ilse Heylen (BEL) - European Cup Malaga (2014, ESP) - © Paco Lozano, Judo y Otros
  • Ilse Heylen (BEL) - World Cup Oberwart (2011, AUT) - © Christian Fidler

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