Belgium at the Olympics

Belgium has competed in almost all of the Olympic Games. They first showed up in the 1900 Summer Games in Paris, France. This is particularly interesting for Belgium because at that time, the country had no official Olympic Committee. Even with that in mind, Belgian athletes still managed to dominate many of their events and took home a total of fifteen Olympic medals (5 gold, silver and bronze). Not too shabby for a first outing, right?

The only Summer Games that Belgium missed was the 1904 St. Louis Games but they came back in the 1908 Games in London where they took eight more Olympic medals. As a matter of fact, the only Summer Games that Belgium came out empty handed was in 1932 when they were only able to send 36 athletes to Los Angeles, California, USA. They even hosted the Summer Games in 1920 where they were able to capitalize on what was often referred to as the "home-court advantage". They took a staggering 36 medal count that included 14 gold. This is by far their best performance in the Summer Games up to and since. They also ranked fifth overall that year and that is the highest that they have ever ranked in the Summer Games.

The story's a bit different for the Winter Games though. Belgium first participated in the Winter Games in 1924 (Charmonix, France). The five-man bobsleigh team of Charles Mulder, René, Mortiaux, Paul van den Broeck, Victor Verschueren and Henri Willems did take the bronze medal but that is it. They did win another bronze medal the next Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1928. Belgium had to wait 20 years before they could take a gold in the Winter Games which was also held in St. Moritz when the figure skating pair of Micheline Lannoy and Pierre Baugniet dominated their competition. Belgium will then experience a long dry-spell in the Winter Games and even missed the 1960 and 1968 Games. They had to wait until the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan before they won another medal when speed skater Bart Veldkamp narrowly took the bronze in the men's 5000 meters.

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