25 August 2009

Van der Geest competes for Belgium

Elco van der Geest got his Belgian citizenship just in time. Although his preparation is not ideal, the 30-year old ‘Dutchman’ was busy for a long time to become Belgian with a long term goal for the 2012 Olympics.
Van der Geest lost the competition to Dutch Henk Grol in 2008 in the qualification for the Olympics where grol won the bronze medal. Van der Geest, the former European Champion of 2002, didn’t win much since than. Many times he thought of giving up his fights against the injuries. Although he was extremely good at the 2004 Athens Olympics where he beat Kosei Inoue, van der Geest finished as fifth. The same position as one year later at the European Championships in Rotterdam.

But since April 2009 he’s back with good results and won the Swiss Open as well as the Grand Prix in Tunis. When he beat World champion Correa he knew he was still able to be amongst the best.
With the help of former Belgian coach and now politician Jean Marie Dedecker he finally got the approval. IJF promissed him to be welcome at the World Championships if he could show his Belgian citizenship. At the day of the draw this succeeded.
He will fight Stabislav Cernega (MDA) is his first match and is on the other side of the table of Henk Grol and Luciano Correa.

Profile Elco van der Geest (BEL)
Weight: 100kg
Age: 30

Major honours:
2002 European Champion, silver in 2009.
20084 Olympic Games 5th place
Five World Cup wins: Rotterdam 2001, Rome 2002, Moscow 2002, Tunis GP 2009, Rio GS 2009
Swiss Open win in 2009, first international victory since 2002 in Moscow.

Major rivals at the World Championships:
Jevgenijs Borodavko (LAT), Maxim Rakov (KAZ), Tagir Khaibulaev (RUS), Takamasa Anai (JPN), Irakli Tsirekidze (GEO), Ariel Zeevi (ISR), Daniel Brata (ROM), Yauhen Biadulin (BLR), Kyeong-Seob Sin (KOR), Przemyslaw Matyjaszek (POL), Luciano Correa (BRA), Oreydis Despaigne (CUB), Henk Grol (NED).

Find the complete draw sheets here: