Tia Hellebaut started out as a pentathlete/heptathlete, winning the European Junior Championships in 1997. As a senior, she failed to medal in the multi-discipline events, but then switched to the high jump. This proved a successful move. After reaching the final of the 2004 Olympics and 2005 World Championships, Hellebaut became the surprising 2006 European Champion in Göteborg (Sweden). She confirmed her abilities by winning two Golden League meets after her title. Her attempt to medal at the 2007 World Championships failed due to an ankle injury, but the season was somewhat saved by the European Indoor title. She also started the 2008 Olympic season with an indoor title: having temporarily switched back to the pentathlon, she took the World Championships in Valencia. While a candidate for a medal in Beijing, the gold was expected to be taken by Blanka Vlašić, who had been unbeaten for 34 competitions. But Hellebaut equalled her (indoor) personal best of 2.05 in her first try, while Vlašić needed two attempts, giving Hellebaut the gold on the countback rule. Her gold medal was Belgium's first track and field gold by a woman, and their first athletics gold since 1964. A few months after the Beijing Games, Hellebaut announced her retirement from the sport, as well as her pregnancy. Her coach was her husband, Wim Vandeven, a Belgian champion in the 110 m hurdles.
Personal Bests: HJ – 2.05i (2007); Hep – 6201 (2006).
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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