Home / Region + Country Categories  / Europe  / Belgium  / BELGIUM: Olympic gold medalist Kim Gevaert reflects on her Salesian education

BELGIUM: Olympic gold medalist Kim Gevaert reflects on her Salesian education

“Empathy and ‘believing in’ were strongly present in this Salesian school.”

(MissionNewswire) Kim Gevaert, a former student at Don Bosco School in Haacht, Belgium, won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was the 2006 European champion in the 100- and 200-meter dash. She recently returned to the Don Bosco School to talk about how a Salesian education impacted her.

“Empathy and ‘believing in’ were strongly present in this Salesian school,” said Gevaert. “There was attention for the complete development of the child. The school tried to bring out the talents of the students and you could do what you were interested in. I definitely felt that.”

She added, “I still remember how I was the weak link in the volleyball team at school, at least that’s how I felt. Eventually, I became one of the stronger runners on the national relay team, but I was very good at empathizing with people when they made a mistake or were not in the best of shape. I never pointed the finger, but understood how that person felt. That empathy and humility are things I have acquired here.”

“I also enjoyed the moments of reflection,” Gevaert explained. “In the sixth year, we went on a weekend silent retreat with the sisters. Then we had to be quiet and go to Mass with them at four o’clock in the morning. Moments like that broaden your view. Those people choose such a life and I could understand that. I think it’s important, as a parent, to counterbalance all the misery that children see. Through faith, you give them a sort of something to hold on to. In the end, they choose what to do with it later on. Maybe nothing, but maybe they need that something to hold on to in order to learn to reflect or to calm down. I raise my children Catholic, but with a broad view of the world. ‘Faith, what is it?’ and ‘What does it do to me?’ That broader view of faith and of the world is our starting point.”

Gevaert has also been dedicating some time to underprivileged youth in Congo. She said,
“My husband and I wanted to do something for the children in his native Congo. I know very well that we grew up in a family with lots of opportunities. As we get older, you realize more and more that we were lucky. For many children, that is not the case. That is why I wanted to give something back to society by dedicating myself to the youth in Congo.”



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS) 

ANS – Belgium – Former Olympic gold medalist Kim Gevaert: “Don Bosco school believed in everyone’s talents”

Salesian Missions