2016 Rio Olympics - Judo - Final - Men -73 kg Bronze Medal Contests - Carioca Arena 2 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 08/08/2016. Dirk Van Tichelt (BEL) of Belgium celebrates. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
Good times.
BLACK EYE

A Belgian won the bronze medal for judo, went out to celebrate, and got punched in the face

By Marc Bain

The Olympics are a time of great highs and lows, sometimes for the same person.

On Aug. 8, Dirk Van Tichelt won bronze for Belgium in men’s judo at the Rio Olympics. That evening, he went out to celebrate his victory on Copacabana beach, and got a little more excitement than he may have anticipated. When Van Tichelt appeared the following day at a press event, he had a noticeable black eye.

Van Tichelt initially said he’d been hit during training, but after the rumor mill got going, he reportedly decided to set the record straight (link in French). In a televised interview, Van Tichelt said he was walking on the beach with his sparring partner, Matthias Casse, when Casse realized the woman he was speaking with had stolen his phone. She ran to a hotel with a guarded entrance, and when they tried to follow her in, security stopped them. According to Van Tichelt, he was trying to break up the scuffle that ensued, when he received a blow to the face by a security guard.

The Olympian reported the incident to the police, who took him to the hospital for observation, though his injury wasn’t serious. The Belgian Olympic Committee has since released a brief statement confirming the incident, according to the AP.

A few of Rio’s Olympic visitors have had brushes with crime: An Australian Paralympian was reportedly robbed at gunpoint in June. This week, a bus carrying a group of journalists was attacked and its windows shattered, although no one was seriously injured.

But while there’s been an uptick in crime around the games, official statistics seem to show that Rio is generally getting more safe, not less.

“The games are magic and Rio is a magnificent city,” Van Tichelt said in the interview. “It was to keep from hurting on either that I first said I’d been hit during training.”