Biography Gella Vandecaveye
Gella Vandecaveye – born in Kortrijk, Belgium in 1973 – began her judo career at Judoclub Zwevegem at the age of eight. At the age of 15, she transferred to Judoclub Jenos Kwai Hooglede, under her current coach and anchor Eddy Vinckier. Her career as a champion began in 1993, with a first World Title in Hamilton, Canada. She then successfully combined top-level sports and a higher education in Communication Management/Journalism.
Gella Vandecaveye is an example of willpower, persistence and unlimited ambition. At the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, she reached her next summit by earning a silver medal after a tough and heavy trial. She broke her neck in 1998, and barely escaped from life in a wheelchair. She became the European Champion again after just five months. Two months before the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, she tore the cross ligaments in her right knee. Nevertheless she won a second Olympic bronze medal even with a severely damaged knee. Eight years after winning her first World Title, she became World Champion for the second time in 2001 and did not lose a single match that year.
As a senior, Gella has won a total of eleven European medals, including seven Gold, two Silver and two Bronze. She is a two-time World Champion Gold medalist, two time Silver and one-time Bronze medalist. She has been nominated seven times for the distinction of ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ by sports journalists, and has received the honor twice, in 1993 and 1997. She has been recognized four times as the ‘European Judoka of the Year’, largely due to her international reputation, in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2001. In 1999 she was awarded the National Trophy for Sports Merit in recognition of her outstanding career. In 2000 she won ‘The Victor’- a trophy for leading sports personalities. In 2002 she was the ‘Sports Example of the Year’ for her sportsmanship and for the example she sets for youngsters. In 2003, Gella was honored as a ‘Great Officer in the Order of Leopold’. At her farewell in 2004, she received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. Gella Vandecaveye ended her career at age 31, after four Olympics and with 23 National Titles.