2009/09/22 | 01:40 pm | in EJU
Judoka of the Week: Ilse Heylen (BEL)32-Year old Ilse Heylen (BEL-7) made a very nice progression in the most recent World Ranking due to her victory in Birmingham U52kg.
We know the tiny Belgian as the bronze medalist of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She’s in international judo competition for 12 years. Although she qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics she wasn’t able to participate, which was one of her major disappointments in her career. Her breakthrough however was at the age of 27, rather late. In 2004 she reached the European Championships final in Bucharest where she lost home judoka Ioana Aluas-Dinea (ROM).
One year later however it was her turn winning the European title close by in Rotterdam. She won four consecutive European medals, with two additional bronze medals in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 she finished 7th, the same position as at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
She’s the most successful for her country in this category despite other cracks like Heidi Goossens, World Championships medalist Nicole Flagothier and double European Champion Inge Clement.
In 2009 Heylen seems to be back again at the age of 32 with bronze in Tbilisi at the Europeans and her victory in Birmingham. This was her tenth World Cup victory in her career, 12 years after her first World Cup/A-tournament in Basel (SUI).
This year is spectacular with already three World Cup medals. Bronze in Madrid, bronze in Rio and the Birmingham gold. Heylen has won 21 World Cup medals.
At World Championships she was however never successful. Despite her European title she didn’t survive the first round in 2005 in Cairo. This year she had a tough draw facing Yanet Bermoy, the Cuban finalist U52kg. Only in 2007 she fought four matches but didn’t get to the final eight.
Heylen fought more than 200 international matches and was the oldest participant in her weight category at the last World Championships.
Now she’s happy to have a more easy period these months as she had been travelling through Europe since April. Later this year she will participate in Minsk and Tokyo.
Profile Ilse Heylen (BEL)
2004 Olympic bronze medallist
2005 European Champion, 5 medals in total
10 World Cup wins, 21 medals
2006 European Team Champion