Mourad Laachraoui, Taekwondo athlete and the brother of one of the suicide bombers in the Brussels airport attacks of March 22, is not included in the Brussels Olympic team. The Belgium Olympic committee announced the names of its three taekwondo selections on Thursday.
In May, Laachraoui earned the European Taekwondo Championship’s gold medal by beating Spaniard Jesus Tortosa in the 54 kg final in Montreux, Switzerland. After he qualified for the Olympics, the Brussels Olympic team even tweeted in support of him, referring to him as a “promising” athlete.
Si Mohamed Ketbi, who was chosen for the Olympics instead of Laachraoui, was No.7 overall at the end of May in the Olympic 58 kg rankings. Laachraoui’s Olympic 58 kg ranking was No. 11 at the end of May. But after he won the European Taekwondo Championship, he was being considered a possible selection for the Brussels Olympic team, the NBC Sports reported.
Ketbi, who was selected for the quota spot for Belgium last year, missed the European Championships. He was also, reportedly, having trouble making weight, which might come in the way of him becoming Belgium’s Olympic representative at 58 kg.
Couple of days after the Brussels attacks in March, in which his older brother Najim was involved, Laachraoui expressed his grief over the attacks at a press conference.
“Our family has the same questions you all have,” the Washington Post quoted him as saying. “He used to be a nice intelligent guy. I couldn’t believe it.”
He said that the family lost contact with Najim, who was also behind the Paris attacks of November, since he left Belgium for Syria three years before the attacks. Laachraoui even tried to get in touch with his brother on Facebook, but never got a response.
“I’m not trying to understand. I’m trying to move on and turn the page,” he told the press conference.