Tia Hellebaut

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Tia Hellebaut
Hellebaut in 2012
Personal information
Born (1978-02-16) 16 February 1978 (age 45)
Belgium Antwerp
Height1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight62 kg (137 lb)
Country Belgium
Now coachingWim Vandeven
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals1st (Beijing, 2008)
Personal best(s)High jump (outdoor & indoor): 2.05 m[1]
Medal record
Representing  Belgium
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2008 Beijing High jump
World Indoor Championships
Gold medal – first place 2008 Valencia Pentathlon
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2006 Gothenburg High jump
European Indoor Championships
Gold medal – first place 2007 Birmingham High jump
World Athletics Final
Silver medal – second place 2006 Stuttgart High jump
Bronze medal – third place 2008 Stuttgart High jump
Updated on 28 July 2022.

Tia Hellebaut (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈti.aː ˈɦɛləbʌut]; born 16 February 1978 in Antwerp) is a retired Belgian track and field athlete, as well as a chemist, who started out in her sports career in the heptathlon, and afterwards specialized in the high jump event. She has cleared 2.05 metres both indoors and outdoors.

Hellebaut was the 2008 Olympic champion in the high jump. She was previously the European Champion in 2006 and then the European Indoor Champion in 2007. She won the gold medal in the pentathlon at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships. In addition to these medals, she has participated at the World Championships in Athletics on four occasions.

She held the Belgian records indoor long jump and indoor pentathlon until they were broken by Nafissatou Thiam and still holds the Belgian record in both indoors and outdoors high jump.[2]


Hellebaut started as a professional athlete with Atletiek Vlaanderen in the period from 2001 to October 2005. From 1 November 2006 she again became a professional athlete, this time at Bloso. During her most successful period, Hellebaut was trained by her partner, Wim Vandeven, at her club, Atletica 84.

At the 2006 European Championships and 2007 Indoor European Championships Hellebaut won the gold medal in high jump. The 2006 victory became especially notable, when just a couple of minutes later her close friend and compatriot Kim Gevaert completed a historical sprint double. The images of both athletes celebrating their victory together, wrapped in a national flag, became part of Belgian sports history.

In 2007 Hellebaut set the then fourth best pentathlon score of all time,[3] but chose not to contest the European Indoor Championships because of illness, choosing instead to compete only in the high jump, which she later won. Most of the remainder of her 2007 high jump season was hampered by an ankle injury. A shoulder injury, which made it difficult for her to throw the javelin, ended her career in heptathlon around this time.

For the 2008 indoor season, Hellebaut returned her focus to multi-events and became world champion of pentathlon at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, where she set a record for the best high jump result in a women's multi-event competition, clearing 1.99 m.[4]

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing, Hellebaut reached her pinnacle thus far by winning the gold medal in the high jump, ahead of the favorite, Blanka Vlašić of Croatia, with a new outdoor personal best of 2.05 m. Her achievement represented the first-ever athletics gold medal in the Olympics for a Belgian woman, and only the second of any color, one day after Belgium won their first (silver) medal in the 4 × 100 m relay (which later was upgraded to gold after the Russian team was disqualified because of a doping rules infraction by one of their athletes).

Retirement and comebacks[edit]

On 5 December 2008 Hellebaut announced her pregnancy and retirement from professional athletics and that she would start working for a sports marketing company. The following year, on 9 June, her daughter Lotte was born.

Inspired by fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters' comeback to the WTA as a young mother, she unexpectedly announced her return to athletics on 16 February 2010, her 32nd birthday. Hellebaut also announced that she would be concentrating exclusively on the high jump and aimed to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics.[5]

Shortly after placing fifth at the 2010 European Athletic Championships in Barcelona by clearing 1.97 metres, her first major championships after her comeback, it was reported that Hellebaut was pregnant again. During a press conference on 17 August she confirmed that she had been pregnant for three months already, and that this had been a conscious choice. Although Hellebaut did not participate in any further 2010 events, she never officially announced that the new pregnancy would definitively end her career.[6]

On 16 June 2011, 4 months after the birth of her second daughter Saartje, Hellebaut announced her second return, confirming that she aimed to defend her title at the London Games.[7] She was Team Belgium national flag bearer at the 2012 Summer Olympics Parade of Nations. She ended fifth in the high jump competition.

On 6 March 2013, after the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, she announced her second retirement, saying that she could no longer challenge herself mentally in competition.[citation needed]

Sport consultancy[edit]

In March 2019, Belgian football club Beerschot Wilrijk announced the take-over of amateur side Rupel Boom and lifetime Beerschot supporter Hellebaut was appointed advisor at Rupel Boom's football academy.[8]

Awards and honours[edit]

International achievements[edit]

Hellebaut warming up before competing (2008)
Hellebaut at the 2008 IAAF World Athletics Final
Hellebaut (centre) preparing for the 2010 European Final
Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Belgium
1995 European Youth Olympic Festival Bath, United Kingdom 9th High jump 1.75 m
1997 European Junior Championships Ljubljana, Slovenia 11th Heptathlon 5157 pts
1999 Universiade Palma, Spain 14th (q) High jump 1.80 m
European U23 Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 6th Heptathlon 5548 pts
2000 European Indoor Championships Ghent, Belgium Pentathlon DNF
2001 World Championships Edmonton, Canada 14th Heptathlon 5680 pts
2003 World Championships Paris, France Heptathlon DNF
2004 World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 5th Pentathlon 4526 pts
Olympic Games Athens, Greece 12th High jump 1.85 m (o)
2005 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 6th High jump 1.93 m
2006 World Championships Indoor Moscow, Russia 6th High jump 1.96 m (xo)
European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 1st High jump 2.03 m (o)
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 2nd High jump 1.98 m
IAAF World Cup Athens, Greece 2nd High jump 1.97 m
2007 European Indoor Championships Birmingham, England 1st High jump 2.05 m (o)
World Championships Osaka, Japan 14th High jump 1.90 m (xo)
2008 World Indoor Championships Valencia, Spain 1st Pentathlon 4867 pts
Olympic Games Beijing, China 1st High jump 2.05 m (o)
World Athletics Final Stuttgart, Germany 3rd High jump 1.97 m
2010 European Championships Barcelona, Spain 5th High jump 1.97 m (xxo)
2012 World Indoor Championships Istanbul, Turkey 5th High jump 1.95 m (o)
Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 4th High jump 1.97 m (o)
2013 European Indoor Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 8th High jump 1.87 m (xo)



  1. ^ Tia Hellabaut's IAAF profile
  2. ^ "Great Expectations". Flanders Today. 6 August 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Hellebaut produces fourth-best pentathlon score of all time with 4877 in Gent". World Athletics. 12 February 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  4. ^ iaaf.org – Gevaert on top of the world in Gent – PREVIEW
  5. ^ "Tia Hellebaut to return to the High Jump". European Athletics. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Tia Hellebaut al drie maanden zwanger". De Standaard. 18 August 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  7. ^ "Olympic champ Hellebaut to defend high jump title". USA Today. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  8. ^ Beerschot Wilrijk neemt Rupel Boom over, Hellebaut wordt jeugdadviseur: "Mentale begeleiding" – Sporza (in Dutch)
  9. ^ "Red Lions volgen Nina Derwael op met winst van Nationale Trofee voor Sportverdienste" (in Dutch). De Standaard. 7 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Palmares Gouden Spike" (in Dutch). www.atletiek.be. 2023.
  11. ^ "Kim Gevaert wint Vlaams Sportjuweel 2002". Het Laatste Nieuws (in Dutch). 11 December 2002.
  12. ^ "Tia Hellebaut is de Vlaamse Reus van 2008". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 5 December 2008.
  13. ^ "Sportvrouw van het jaar" (in Dutch). sportgala.be. 2023.
  14. ^ "Tia Hellebaut is Sportpersoonlijkheid van het Jaar". De Standaard (in Dutch). 14 December 2008.
  15. ^ "Ereburgers van Tessenderlo". www.tessenderlo.be (in Dutch). 27 August 2008.
  16. ^ "Gevaert en Hellebaut bekroond met Grootkruis".
  17. ^ "WSLA Monaco". worldsportslegendsaward.com. 3 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by Flagbearer for  Belgium
London 2012
Succeeded by