Their success in a thrilling four set match, winning 3-1, against the highly rated US team, who had beaten the Belgians in the preliminary round of games, was on the second gold medal for Belgium. Led by captain Ilke van de Vvyer the team had looked severely under pressue after losing the first set, the coach and also father of the skipper Julien van de Vvyer had to step in and give a pep talk to refocus the girls.
“I told them all they lost was one set, and they had not lost the game,” he said.
And rally they did to win the next three sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-12).
“We never gave up. It is the gold medal game and you can’t give up, and we never gave up,” said Elien Ruysschaert, speaking for the whole team following victory.
The match was one of the last events at the games. At the closing ceremony International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge praised all the performers.
“These were truly inspirational Games,” said Rogge.
The 13-day event welcomed 3,600 athletes aged 14 to 18 from around the world.
“”The Youth Olympic Games exceeded vastly my highest expectations. I knew it would be well organised. I now have 22 Olympic Games under my belt but (Singapore 2010) ranks at the very top,” said Rogge who said he felt like a father pacing a hospital delivery room before the Games opened.
The Belgian championed the Youth Olympics concept in 2001 and received a unanimous approval from the IOC members in 2007.
The next competition will also be held in Asia in the Chinese city of Nanjing in 2014, a winter version is set for Innsbruck in 2012.