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26 November 2014 | in Summer Universiade, Athletics

An Athlete to be proud of, a Human to admire


Thomas Van Der Plaetsen celebrating his golden victory (Photo: Regina Valeeva)

BRUSSELS - A bump on the road. Thomas Van Der Plaetsen, a 24 year old Belgian decathlete, refuses to let cancer be anything more than that. During the most important battle of his life, Thomas is rewarded with the Golden Spike for his excellent performances in 2014. The best male Belgian athlete is already looking forward to his future in decathlon. ‘Winning this price only motivates me more to come back stronger’, he stated at the award ceremony.

All smiles with the first gold for Belgium in KazanFlashback to July 9th 2013. After a serious injury, Thomas Van Der Plaetsen wins the golden medal in decathlon at the Universiade in Kazan. That this was not a lucky shot, is proven by the fact that he kept competing at a high level in 2014. He won bronze at the World Cup indoor and managed to do that by setting a new Belgian record. You are a champion or you are not and everyone will agree that the Golden Spike fits nowhere more than in his hands.

And then, in the midst of his growth towards an even higher level, he gets the news that no athlete or no human ever deserves to get: the golden boy has testicular cancer. This appeared to be a slap in the face, but definitely not a knock-out. ‘If everything is going according to plan, I will start preparing for the new season in January 2015 and I will compete again for the first time at the Universiade in Gwangju in July 2015’, says Thomas.

Life is not what happens to you, but the way you respond to it. Thomas Van Der Plaetsen sets an example for all of us. His spirit and positivism are endless and Belgium may have high hopes for this youngster.


Lien Cypers (BEL), FISU U-Media Reporter