Since 1995, the Memorial Van Damme and the Mondo athletics track, built for the King Baudouin Stadium, have been linked by an incredible history of success: 17 world records have been set there, the last of which was in 2020.
How is this series of victories possible? One reason is the unquestionable level of the athletes who compete here every year, as well as their preparation. Another explanation comes directly from the testimony of Wilfried Meert, one of the founders and current President of the Memorial Van Damme. "MONDO arrived and... the records just kept coming (...). In total 16 world records were set in Brussels and 6 of them are still standing. There have been countless national and continental records”: important words referring to the MONDO athletics track, installed in 1995, and which validate and support the successes that athletics has been able to experience on this track.
When the MONDO track arrived at King Baudouin the stadium was already on its second renovation.
Founded as a multi-purpose sports facility in Brussels and inaugurated in 1930, the King Baudouin stadium has undergone three renovations. Although football had dominated, in 1971 a prefabricated synthetic athletics track was finally installed and this was the beginning of the association with athletics that would become an integral part of the Belgian stadium's history over the years.
Since 1977, the King Baudouin stadium has been the venue for the Memorial Van Damme, one of the most prestigious international athletics meetings, part of the Diamond League circuit (which derives from the previous Golden League that replaced the IAAF Grand Prix in 1998).
Wilfried Meert says that the Memorial was established in honour of the Belgian athlete Ivo Van Damme, holder of several accomplishments including two silver medals at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, who sadly passed away prematurely.
The organisers would never have imagined that, after the first edition of this meeting, it would go on to be so successful.
“We never thought there would be a second edition after the initial one. But the 40,000 spectators who came to that first Memorial were so touched by what they had seen that they asked for another meeting in 1978...Since then, we have never stopped and last summer we celebrated the 44th edition of the Memorial Van Damme which even today continues to be one of the most classic and famous athletics meetings on the international calendar, always making the top 3 lists”.
The arrival of the new MONDO athletics track at King Baudouin stadium marked a turning point in athletics competitions. Wilfried Meert confirms that until then only one world record had been set there, but then MONDO completely rebuilt the track and saw the start of an incredible new season of victories for the Memorial Van Damme and its athletes.
The 17 records set to date are therefore the best testimony to the characteristics of the track, in particular the research behind the MONDO track surface, Sportflex Super X 720 K39.
The Sportflex Super X 720 K39 surface encapsulates the secret of two layers that are perfectly combined through the vulcanisation process: this results in a material that is uniform in thickness and performance, providing an optimised running pace for athletes.
The very structure of the two layers also guarantees top performance. The hexagonal air-filled cells that make up the bottom layer ensure full absorption of the impact force, energy storage and maximum return in kinetic response: the risk of trauma and athlete fatigue during competitions or training is also minimised.
The vulcanised rubber of the top layer provides excellent elasticity and optimised grip; in addition, the textured surface that ensures a larger contact surface and efficient water drainage in case of rain.
The combination of all these elements, which make up the Sportflex Super X 720 K39 surface, represents one of the keys to the successes of Memorial Van Damme over all these years: from 1995 to today, it has always been a MONDO track.
The last renovation was in 2009: “On that occasion we were happy and proud that MONDO installed the same track here at the King Baduin Stadium that had been used in the famous Beijing Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Now it's time to renovate it again so that we can celebrate our 50th anniversary in the best possible way with the hope of another world record!".
The fact that the MONDO track has been able to complement the performances of the athletes who have competed at the Memorial so far leads Wilfried Meert to hope that Mondo will once again be chosen for the renovation of the track planned for summer 2021 so that this exciting story and winning combination will continue in the years to come.