Mourad Laachraoui

Mourad Laachraoui
Getty Images

Brussels bomber’s brother not named to Belgium Olympic team

Leave a comment

Taekwondo athlete Mourad Laachraoui, whose older brother, Najim, was one of two suicide bombers in the March 22 Brussels airport attacks, was passed over for the Rio Olympics, the Belgium Olympic Committee announced Thursday.

Belgium announced its three Olympic taekwondo selections and did not include Laachraoui, who last month won gold at the European Championships in a non-Olympic weight class.

Laachraoui, who took the European 54kg title, was one of three candidates for the Belgium team in the lightest Olympic men’s division of 58kg.

The athlete chosen for the Olympics was Si Mohamed Ketbi, who qualified the quota spot for Belgium last year and was No. 7 overall in the Olympic 58kg rankings at the end of May.

Laachraoui was No. 11 in the Olympic 58kg rankings at the end of May but was considered a possible Olympic selection after he won gold at Europeans in the lighter weight class.

Ketbi, the reigning World 58kg silver medalist, missed the European Championships and has reportedly had trouble making weight, which had put him in danger of not being named as Belgium’s Olympic representative at 58kg.

MORE: U.S. Olympic taekwondo team complete

Brussels bomber’s brother could compete in Olympics

Mourad Laachraoui
Getty Images
3 Comments

Mourad Laachraoui, whose older brother, Najim, was one of two suicide bombers in the March 22 Brussels airport attacks, won gold at the European Taekwondo Championships on Thursday and could be named to Belgium’s Olympic team.

Laachraoui took the European 54kg title in Switzerland.

His victory came in a non-Olympic weight class. A different Belgian previously qualified an Olympic spot for the nation in the 58kg division.

Laachraoui is one of three candidates for the one Belgian 58kg berth at the Rio Olympics, a Belgium Taekwondo Union official said Saturday.

The three candidates met a standard of being in the top 20 of the global Olympic 58kg ranking. Laachraoui was ranked No. 15, behind No. 6 Si Mohamed Ketbi and ahead of No. 18 Salaheddine Bensaleh, at the end of April.

A Belgian Olympic Committee official said Saturday that the representative for Rio has not been chosen.

“We will communicate the first selection in about one week from now,” the official said in a text message.

Ketbi, the reigning World 58kg silver medalist, missed the European Championships and has reportedly had trouble making weight, putting him in danger of not being named as Belgium’s Olympic representative at 58kg.

MORE: U.S. Olympic taekwondo team complete