Home » From Loena on the ice to Nafi in Paris: these are the ten sporting moments of 2024 that our editors are looking forward to

From Loena on the ice to Nafi in Paris: these are the ten sporting moments of 2024 that our editors are looking forward to

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1. Will Loena and Nina become the ice queens of Europe?

What? European Figure Skating Championships in Kaunas

When? January 12-16

© EPA-EFE

Why should we definitely watch?

Barely two weeks into 2024, national sports history can be written. Loena Hendrickx is the sky-high favorite in Kaunas to become the first Belgian ever to be crowned European figure skating champion. Nina Pinzarrone can complete the Belgian party in Lithuania. The 17-year-old Brussels top talent seems to be Hendrickx’s main challenger. Our two compatriots were the only two European girls who managed to qualify for the Grand Prix final with the best six figure skaters in the world. If the sporting logic continues, Loena and Nina will win gold and silver. Any reservations? The European title was also up for grabs last year, but Hendrickx had an off day.

2. Will Belgian Cats come to Paris in a sold-out Sportpaleis?

What? Olympic qualifying tournament for the Belgian Cats in Antwerp

When? February 8-11

© BELGIUM

Why should we definitely watch?

The Belgian Cats are hot. Their very first European title filled the Grand Place of Brussels last summer, and in a month’s time the Antwerp Sports Palace will also be full when Emma Meesseman and co will look for an Olympic qualification ticket for their own people. More than 10,000 tickets flew out the door, the audience record for a women’s match in Belgium will certainly be broken. On the first day of competition, the top match against the United States, the strongest women’s team in the world across all sports, is on the agenda in the Sportpaleis. This will be followed by vital qualifying matches against Nigeria and Senegal to open the gate to Paris. In addition to the Cats, approximately 120 other compatriots will try to join the 41 Belgian athletes who have already qualified for the Olympic Games in the coming months. The Olympic qualifying tournaments for hockey players in Valencia (January 13-21), the Swimming World Championships in Doha (February 11-18) and the European All-round Gymnastics Championships in Rimini (May 2-5) are all-or-nothing moments.

3. Will sister and brother Desmet take revenge in the lion’s den?

What? World Short Track Championships in Rotterdam

When? March 15-17

© AFP

Why should we definitely watch?

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Last year, sister and brother Hanne and Stijn Desmet were chased away from the Netherlands. After years of training with our northern neighbors, the Belgian short track standard bearers had become too good and started to win more and more medals. Hanne and Stijn said goodbye and found shelter in Canada. They only seem to have gotten better there. In the den of the orange lion, Ahoy Rotterdam, the ultimate revenge against the Dutch during the World Cup can soon take place. Revenge is a dish best served cold. In the case of the Desmets: ice cold.

4. Finally seventh heaven for Van Aert and Kopecky in De Hel?

What? Paris-Roubaix

When? April 6 and 7

© BELGIUM

Why should we definitely watch?

If the new cycling spring delivers at least half the spectacle of the 2023 vintage, cycling fans will already be set from Omloop to Liège. Let us choose one sweet from that basket with all those goodies: Paris-Roubaix. If only because, in addition to the Olympic Games, Lotte Kopecky has explicitly declared the hell classic her other major goal of 2024. Two years ago she came second, last year a fall killed her. Another one who saw his Roubaix dream cut short in the final last year due to bad luck: Wout van Aert. The 29-year-old Flemish leader canceled quite a few crosses and the Italian classics to be extra good in Flanders and Roubaix. Now then, Wout and Lotte?

5. Will Kenyan Kiptum be the first to run a marathon under two hours?

What? Rotterdam Marathon

When? April 14

© Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA

Why should we definitely watch?

How hard can it be to shave off another 35 seconds? It’s a disrespectful expression, but since Kelvin Kiptum set the world record for the marathon at 2h00:35 in Chicago on October 8, everyone sees him as the man who will be the first to break the magical two-hour barrier. That must happen in Rotterdam. His Kenyan compatriot Eliud Kipchoge already did it to Kiptum in 2019 in the Vienna marathon, but that world record was not recognized because Kipchoge used unofficial aids.

6. Does Luca Brecel pull the curtain again in the Crucible?

What? Snooker World Cup

When? April 20 – May 6

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© Getty Images

Why should we definitely watch?

Luca Brecel wrote the Belgian sports story of 2023 by becoming the first compatriot to become world snooker champion. Now The Belgian Bullet is heading to the Crucible as defending champions. While the bookmakers didn’t give a penny for Brecel’s title chances last year, every punch from the Limburger will now be viewed with a magnifying glass. The past few months have been less smooth for Brecel, but after the spectacular fairytale of 2023, everyone knows: with Brecel on the green sheet, magic lurks around the corner.

7. How do Uijtdebroeks, Van Aert and Pogacar feel about pink?

Wat? Tour of Italy

When? May 4 – 26

© Getty Images

Why should we definitely watch?

Because one Tadej Pogacar is making his debut in the Tour of Italy. And where the Slovenian appears, spectacle follows. In the Tour de France, Pogacar collided with Jonas Vingegaard in the past two years, so the leader of UAE Team Emirates is trying this time in the Giro. Another debutant with a name and fame? Wout van Aert. Not to chase a ranking, but to win stages. Ready for a shot at a top ten in the final standings: teammate Cian Uijtdebroeks. Curious to see what the 20-year-old top talent can do after his much-discussed transfer as leader in a grand tour of the powerful Team Visma – Lease a Bike.

8. Will the Devil’s blitzkrieg last until Berlin?

What? I play football

When? June 14 – July 14

© BELGIUM

Why should we definitely watch?

The European Championship four years ago ended with a disappointment in the quarter-final against Italy, we don’t even waste words anymore about the World Cup in Qatar. The upcoming European Championship must be the tournament of the resurrection of a fresh generation of Red Devils. The sleep-inducing knitting under Martinez has made way for the attractive straight forward football of Tedesco. Without Hazard and Witsel, but with new trendsetters such as Doku and Lukebakio, the Red Devils in Germany are expected to swing through their group with Slovakia and Romania, among others. France will probably be waiting in the quarter-finals. We still have a bone to pick with that.

9. Will Evenepoel follow in Merckx’s footsteps in France?

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Wat? Tour de France

When? June 29 – July 21

© Getty Images

Why should we definitely watch?

This summer we will finally get the answer to the most frequently asked cycling question of recent years: is Remco Evenepoel capable of ever winning the Tour de France? Even after the most talented Belgian cyclist of this century won the Vuelta, the group of non-believers still seems larger than the believers. It’s up to Evenepoel to give the doubters tit for tat between Florence and Nice. Winning his first Tour straight away would be too much of a good thing, rider and team still have room for growth. But achieving a good ranking and occasionally tickling Vingegaard, Roglic and Pogacar along the way should be the minimum ambition to keep the Tour dream alive.

10. Will we get a rain of Belgian medals in Paris?

What? Olympic and Paralympic Games

When? July 26 – August 11 and August 28 – September 8

© BELGIUM

Why should we definitely watch?

Another 212 days and the Olympic flame arrives in Paris. Team Belgium won seven Olympic medals in Tokyo 2020, the goal in the French capital is ten medals. It would be by far the largest Belgian medal harvest since London 1948. We ourselves count about 25 chances for Olympic medals. An ‘Olympic law’ says that three real medal chances result in one medal. So things will be tight in Paris. Our biggest assets for Olympic gold? Lotte Kopecky, Nafi Thiam, the Red Lions, Matthias Casse, Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel. We also currently count Bashir Abdi, Jasper Philipsen, Sarah Chaâri, the jumping team, the Belgian Cats and the Red Panthers among the full-fledged medal candidates. In addition, there are a dozen outsiders who can transcend themselves under De Vlam.

Two weeks after their Olympic colleagues, the Paralympic athletes make their appearance in Paris. After a successful year with 23 medals won at world or European championships, the Belgian Paralympic delegation is also heading to the four-yearly high mass of sport with great ambition. Peter Genyn (athletics), Michèle George (equestrian) and Laurens Devos (table tennis) defend their Olympic titles in Paris. For the first time, Paralympians will receive the same medal awards as their Olympic counterparts.

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