Sixteen year-old table tennis player Laurens Devos was crowned the Belgian Paralympian of the year on Saturday (17 December), after winning gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The class 9 world No. 2 played superbly in Brazil, winning all his matches without dropping a single set. The final, which saw him beat the Dutchman Last Gerben in just 18 minutes, made history. He became the youngest Paralympic table tennis champion of all time.
Devos’ new accolade comes just two weeks after being voted Male Paralympic Table Tennis Player of the Year by the International Table Tennis Federation.
The Belgian Paralympian of the Year title is awarded annually at the Sports Gala organised by the Belgian Sports Journalists' Association. Devos follows previous winner Marieke Vervoort, Paralympian of the Year in 2015.
Devos topped the poll with 320 points, beating two other Paralympic champions: Florian Van Acker (282 points) and Peter Genyn (273 points).
Peter Genyn awarded the "Vlaamse Sportjuweel"
After being crowned European and Paralympic Champion over both his distances (100m and 400m T51), Genyn has been given the prestigious Vlaamse Sportjuweel Award, which the Flemish community presents annually to an athlete who has delivered a remarkable and exceptional sporting performance.
Following taekwondo Olympian Jaouad Achab in 2015, the wheelchair racer from Kalmthout is the third Paralympic athlete to receive the Vlaamse Sportjuweel. Gino De Keersmaeker won the award in 2004 for his achievements at the Athens Paralympic Games, as did Vervoort in 2012 (with the Olympian Hans Van Alphen) after London 2012.
Genyn is also in contention for the 2016 Victor Boin Trophy, which recognises a Paralympic athlete's performances and/or overall career.