Last year, Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman placed third in Belgium’s Female Athlete of the Year award (Sportvrouw van het jaar in Dutch or Sportive de l’année in French). The winner was gymnast Nina Derwael and the runner up was heptathlete Nafi Thiam.
This year, the three athletes are likely going to be nominated again in this year’s Sportgala*/Gala du Sport. So after two consecutive years where Meesseman came up a distant third, does she have a chance to win it all? After all, she’s the WNBA Finals MVP. The Mystics are WNBA champions. And UMMC Ekaterinburg won EuroLeague Women as well.
Sporza ran an informal poll (in Dutch) to see if readers would vote for Meesseman, Derwael, who placed fifth in the all-round competition but won Gold for the uneven bars in the Gymnastics World Championships or Thiam, who won silver in the heptathlon in this year’s track and field World Championships. Fifty-eight percent of respondents (or 26,203 of 45.604 respondents) would give the award to the Meesseman.
Though fans are more on Meesseman’s side than ever, they won’t get to pick the actual winner of the award. Belgian sports journalists make that call. For women’s sports there, team sports tend to have a disadvantage compared to athletes in individual sports like track, gymnastics, tennis, etc. In fact, no athlete from a team sport has won it!
That said, I think Meesseman has come really, really close to cracking the code this time coming up big in the WNBA Finals. Hopefully, she’ll win the award later this December, when the awards are generally held.
*There is also a “Sportgala” and a “Sportvrouw van het jaar” award in the Netherlands. But yes, we are talking about the Belgian version.