“Bronze” for ASF-runner

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Brussels – 11 September 2013. On Friday, 6th of September, the King Baudouin Stadium was bustling with excitement during the Memorial Van Damme, for many athletes the last international meeting of the season. The spectacular event was struck by “lightening” by the participation of Usain Bolt, and new records were set. For Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), the evening was even more significant because law student Gert-Jan Struye ran the 100 meters of his life for ASF and he managed to take third place in a solid 12”36!

A radio station gave eight men and eight women the opportunity to sprint the 100m at the Memorial in support of a good cause of their choice. We met up with Gert-Jan in the aftermath of his sensational race for ASF.

Gert-Jan, how does it feel to sprint in front of tens of thousands of people?
G-J: It was unbelievable! As exciting as it was to train with Kim Gevaert [former European champion on the 100m], you can’t imagine the rush I felt to compete in front of so many spectators. After our warming-up session, which was in the same field the professional athletes use for their preparation, a shuttle bus drove us to the stadium. We entered the arena and were led onto the track. As candidate for the VRG presidency [the law student association of the Catholic University of Leuven], I’ve often faced a full auditorium. Nonetheless, to sprint in front of a sold-out King Baudouin stadium is a totally different experience! To hear the sound of 40,000 people applauding and cheering you on is absolutely exhilarating. The whole event is actually one big rush. The whole race, from the moment you shoot out of the starting blocks until the point where you’re lead out of the stadium, all seems to go by in the blink of an eye.

What was the most unforgettable moment of the evening?
G-J: The moments before the start of the race, as I was waiting for the starting pistol to be fired, were very special. I tried to clear my mind and stay focused on the race, although at the same time I was surrounded by tens of thousands of people watching my every move.

Are you happy with the outcome of your performance?
G-J: I felt I could have done better than a third place and it was unfortunate that my takeoff was a bit slow. On the other hand it feels wonderful to finish third at the Memorial Van Damme where I ran on the same track as Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Do you have any activities planned supporting ASF in the future?
G-J: The VRG intends to organise activities this year in support of ASF. Through these events, we also hope to familiarize law students in Leuven with the work of ASF.

We thank Gert-Jan for his commitment to ASF. Furthermore, ASF would like to thank everyone who sponsored Gert-Jan while preparing for the 100 meters of his life. We are pleased to announce that more than 1000 euros was raised in support of Gert-Jan and ASF, especially thanks to the Belgian National Lottery and the law firm Eubelius.

We hope that this initiative will be followed by many more similar actions in the future.

Read the previous webstory on Gert-Jan’s participation in the 100 meters of his life.

Cover photo: Gert-Jan on the tracks, ready to run for justice © G-J Struye / ASF