It has been a fantastic past few seasons for Belgium and, for one of its players in particular, the last four years have been an almost always upwards trajectory.
22-year-old Arthur Van Doren is one of the Belgium Red Lions who won silver at the Rio Olympics – the first Olympic medal for Belgium since 1920 but, while he may be young, Van Doren is already a veteran of the team – he has played for the national side since he was 17.
During his international career, mirroring his country, Van Doren has been racking up the honours. At the 2010 Youth Olympic Games he and his team won bronze; in 2011 Belgium were crowned U18 champions; a year later he was part of the team that won the European U21 Championships. In 2013 Belgium won the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, thus guaranteeing a place at the 2014 World Cup; in 2015 Belgium claimed silver at the HWL Finals in Raipur. The best moment in an already stellar career was, says Van Doren unsurprisingly, “silver at Rio 2016”.
On a personal level, Van Doren won the 2012 Golden Stick (juniors), which is awarded to the best U21 player in Belgium, and two years later he was voted Belgium’s best player with the Golden Stick (seniors).
When it comes to FIH awards, this is third time lucky for the Belgium player. He was also nominated in 2013 and 2014.
“It is a huge honour to be named FIH Rising Star of the year,” says Van Doren. “2016 has been a special year for us. Belgian hockey has been growing over the past few years and we showed that by winning the Olympic silver medal in Rio. These results obviously aren't given to you. We trained pretty much everyday in the 2016, worked very hard to reach our goal.”