By Johan Dobbelaere
BRUGGE, Belgium. BELGIAN swim aficionados shed a tear today on learning that Brigitte Becue, 29, who participated at the Olympic Games of Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000), has swum her last race.
"BB," as she is known in her native land, has decided to call it quits. After an impressive career of almost 15 years at or near the top of international swimming, Becue decided to stop.
"It was a funny time", Becue told SwimInfo. "I still love swimming and I always will, but it became more and more difficult to practice, especially early in the morning. I was not hungry any longer, so it's time to stop. Swimming has dominated my life; now it's time for something else."
Brigitte Becue not only participated four times at the Olympic Games, she also won several times on the World Cup tour and held the European record for 100 meters breaststroke (short course) for a period of almost four years (1:06.87).
She swam her final 100 meters at the Olympiabad, the same pool where two years ago another Belgian swimmer, former world champion and former world record holder Fred Deburghgraeve, decided to retire. Becue and Deburghgraeve were a dynamic duo. The Belgian twosome was famous all over the world, giving Belgian swimming global prestige.
At her last meet in Brugge, there was an emotional atmosphere. All alone, BB swam her final 100 meters. The crowd cheered her for the entire swim, then gave her a standing ovation. "It feels great to say goodbye in front of my fans, here in my hometown Brugge," said Becue, who was almost buried with flowers. "It's emotional to stop but I am sure: I don't plan a comeback."
Now Day One of her new life has begun. "I have some plans but nothing is for sure for the moment. First of all, I want to have some time off. I want to get charged up again, and go for a new career," she said. One possibility is television. Several Belgian TV stations have already shown interest in signing her.