Belgian European Championships Contenders on Show, Olympic Champion Camacho-Quinn Star of 45th KBC Nacht


The 45th KBC Nacht in Heusden-Zolder was a fun reunion for fans and the European Championships’ Belgian contenders. Jochem Vermeulen, Florent Mabille, Imke Vervaet and Naomi Van den Broeck were just some of the athletes keen to show off in front of a home crowd a few days after their medal race at the European Championships in Rome. However, the wind did not make it easy for them. Still, Vermeulen managed to run a PR in the 800m and Van den Broeck set her third best time ever. The star of the meeting was Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn.

The European Championships contenders did not bring the Italian sun with them. On the contrary, the wind was particularly strong at De Veen Stadium in Heusden-Zolder. At times this led to measured wind speeds of +4m/s during the sprint, which unfortunately meant there were very few valid times.

Marine Jehaes’ 11″31 will therefore not be one for the record books, although the young sprinter shows she is back on track after injury. She beat Rani Vincke (11″32) and others. In the following set the wind speeds were slightly more normal at +2.8m/s of tailwind. Patrizia Van der Weken, the number four at the European Championships, proved to be the strongest with 11″07. After a difficult start, Rani Rosius was able to grab third place in 11″26.

In the men’s race, the wind also lent a big hand. Although Kobe Vleminckx’ spike came off partly in the race, he still came third in 10″21. Victory went to Joshua Harttman in 9″92. In the high hurdles, a compatriot was triumphant, Elie Bacari who sprinted to 13″39. Never before had the European Championships finalist gone so fast, although the time could not be homologated due to the wind. Later in the evening, Bacari was awarded the Paul Eerdekens Trophy for best Belgian performance of the meeting. In his wake, Julien Watrin ran 14″22. The Belgian Tornado who is fighting back valiantly after beating testicular cancer had hoped to dip under 14 seconds, but squandered those hopes by crashing into the third hurdle too hard.

The absolute star of the meeting came from Puerto Rico. Reigning Olympic Champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn tolerated no opposition in the 100m hurdles and won convincingly in 12″56.

Equally indisputable was Naomi Van den Broeck’s victory in the flat 400m. She set her third best time ever and beat Imke Vervaet’s 52″22 with 51″68. Paulien Couckuyt ran her first 400m of the season in 53″46. Among the men, Florent Mabille triumphed, on the same track where he achieved a solid PR last year, by setting 46″72. In the 400m hurdles, Nina Hespel set her best time of the season, 57″34 was good for a win.

In the 800m, Eliott Crestan is still searching for the direct Olympic limit of 1’44″70. Yesterday, he was alone in his quest in the final straight. He found no one to pull him along and authoritatively came in first in 1’45″40. Silver European Medallist in the 1500m, Jochem Vermeulen also opted for the double track lap. He has clearly processed all the attention and obligations that come with his silver medal well and goes home with a new PR of 1’46″38 and second place. Tibo De Smet was unable to turn the tide after his modest first lap and came in sixth in 1’47″19. Christina Hering won the women’s race in 2’04″00, followed 63 hundredths later by Vanessa Scaunet.

It was Australia that reigned in the 1500m. Stewart McSweyn did not tolerate any more company in the last 200m and won convincingly in 3’35″44. His compatriot Sarah Billings was not as convincing but also took the win in 4’06″26. Antoine Senard and Elise Vanderelst were the best Belgians in the pack. Senard clocked in with 3’39″41, Vanderelst put 4’07″84 on the clock.

The 5000m provides the top performances of the KBC Nacht year after year and once again the front pack was running fast. Santiago Catrofe bettered his own record by setting 13’05″95. Guillaume Grimard also demolished his previous best time. On the same track where he ran his record two years ago, he ran 13’39″79 this time.

In the pole vault, Elien Vekemans regained some confidence after a difficult time at the European Championships and injury worries. With 4m23, she remained on par with the winner, but due to errors she was relegated to fourth place. Timothy Herman was finally able to flirt with the 80m mark again. He threw his javelin 79m21, although he had to give way to Kasper Sagen. The Norwegian set a PR with 80m66.

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