"To be awarded a national title for personal performances during one year is an enormous honour. It will stimulate me even more in my preparations for London 2012, where I’m eager to conquer a medal."
Para-cyclist Wim Decleir was honoured with the title of Belgian SportsPress Paralympian of the Year on Sunday (18 December).
With this award, Decleir succeeds swimmer Sven Decaesstecker, who won the prestigious title last year.
After taking two bronze medals at the UCI Para-Cycling World Championships in 2010, the “little Belgian” sped to a silver in the Road Race H4 at the 2011 World Championships in Roskilde, Denmark and will finish the year No. 1 in the rankings for that event.
To be awarded the Paralympian of the Year title, the 40-year-old had to beat champions Gino De Keersmaeker (Discus F42 world champion),Kris Bosmans (Para-Cycling C3 world champion) and Sven Decaesstecker (200m Medley SM10 European champion). Lars Mertens, who took the MVP title at both the Wheelchair Rugby 2010 World and 2011 European Championships and Para-Table Tennis champions Marc Ledoux and Mathieu Loicq, who took team silver at last year’s World Championships, were also nominated.
In a primetime live show on Belgian public broadcaster Sporza, Decleir received his trophy from Saxo Bank cyclist Nick Nuyens, winner of the 2011 Tour of Flanders. In a video compilation, Alberto Contador, Frank and Andy Schleck, Marc Cavendish and Tom Boonen congratulated Decleir on his 2011 performances and wished him all the best at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
"To be awarded a national title for personal performances during one year is an enormous honour,” Decleir said.
“It will stimulate me even more in my preparations for London 2012, where I’m eager to conquer a medal. It is only the second time this trophy is awarded by the sports press, so special thanks to them and to the Belgian Paralympic Movement for their constant efforts in taking the Paralympic sports to a higher level.”
Decleir lost his leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 18. At that time, the now-full-time private banking officer was a promising football player for former Belgian first division club, Harelbeke. Following the accident, Decleir picked up handcycling, and he immediately went on to flourish.
Para-cycling will be one of 20 sports featured at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.