The Allianz Memorial Van Damme has a rich history that goes back to 1977. In 2017 the organisers decided to create a Hall of Fame, so that the athletes who contributed to the famous history of the meeting could be honoured. Willie Banks, Gail Devers, Sebastian Coe, Heike Drechsler, Steve Cram, Merlene Ottey, Hicham El Guerrouj, Kim Gevaert, Tia Hellebaut and meeting founder and long time meeting director Wilfried Meert have already been introduced in that Hall of Fame.
On Friday Sep.3rd, at the occasion of the 45th Allianz Memorial Van Damme, Blanka Vlasic will also receive her place in the Hall of Fame. The Croatian High Jumper made her debut in Brussels at the age of 17 years only. She competed 8 times in Brussels, out of which she triumphed three times.
In Belgium Blanka Vlasic will always be remembered as the big rival of Tia Hellebaut at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. In a breathtaking final they both crossed a bar at 2,05m, but Hellebaut won on countback and took the gold medal. Vlasic had to settle for silver as the favourite in the event. In 2009 Vlasic set a personal best of 2,08m, just 1cm shy of the World Record held by Stefka Kostadinova. All-in all, Vlasic won 4 World Titles, 2 outdoor and 2 indoor.
The Women’s High Jump is also on the program of the 45th Allianz Memorial Van Damme, the second to last leg of the Wanda Diamond League. We are all looking forward to watch Nafi Thiam in that event. The Belgian wrote sports history for her home country by winning a second Olympic gold medal. No Belgian sportsman or woman have ever done that before. Thiam faces strong Ukranian jumpers, such as Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Yuliya Levchenko who are High Jump finalists in Tokyo.