Speed skater Bart Swings was the toast of Belgium as he delivered the nation's first Winter Olympics medal in 20 years. The athlete, better known for his highly successful inline speed skating exploits, produced a devastating burst of speed to claim the silver medal in the mass start event in South Korea. In the 2017 edition of The World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, Swings demonstrated his appetite for sporting glory by winning two of the titles on offer at the inline speed skating track and adding a bronze for good measure. Four years earlier in Cali, Colombia he had been similarly dominant, also striking gold twice and making two further visits to the podium.
However his latest triumph is the most satisfying yet. Millions of TV viewers were able to watch the Belgian produce a masterclass in tactics and timing. Swings was always well positioned throughout the race, just on the shoulders of the leading group. With two laps remaining, legendary Dutch skater Sven Kramer pulled away from the pack in search of a tenth medal at the Winter Olympics. Swings using the skills that he has honed on the road, which has led to the Belgian athlete taking the Berlin Marathon title for the last five years, upped the tempo. The Dutchman was soon overhauled, but Swings' burst of pace was insufficient to get past hometown favourite Lee Sung Hoon, the Belgian crossing the line a few strides behind the triumphant Korean.
Swings’ silver medal is all the more remarkable, because whilst inline skating comes naturally to him, strapping on ice skates and racing is much harder work. The World Games heartily congratulates Bart Swings on his wonderful achievement and looks forward to seeing him race on the road once more during our next event in Birmingham, Alabama in 2021.
Brian Salmon for The World Games