Martial Van Schelle

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMartial Albert Fowler•Van Schelle
Used nameMartial•Van Schelle
Born6 July 1899 in Merksplas (BEL)
Died15 March 1943 in Breendonk (BEL)
Measurements170 cm
AffiliationsRoyal Brussels SC, Bruxelles (BEL)
NOC Belgium


Martial Van Schelle was a Belgian sportsman and businessman. Van Schelle represented Belgium at four Olympic Games during the 1920s and 1930s. He was executed by the Nazis during World War II.

Van Schelle was born in Belgium in 1899 and spent the early part of his life in the United States. Van Schelle lived in Chicago from 1904 to 1918. During this time Van Schelle’s mother was onboard the RMS Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Although she survived the sinking, she later died of her injuries. As a result, Van Schelle joined the American Expeditionary Force and landed in France in 1918. At the end of World War I, Van Schelle returned to live in Belgium.

During the 1920s Van Schelle excelled as a swimmer. Van Schelle was the Belgian champion in the 100 metres freestyle in 1920–23 and 1925–28, and in the 200 metres freestyle in 1922–23. Van Schelle competed at three editions of the Summer Olympics; 1920 Antwerpen, 1924 Paris, and 1928 Amsterdam. However, Van Schelle’s national success did not translate to international success, as he did not progress from the heats in the races he swam in.

Van Schelle’s next Olympic appearance would as a bobsledder at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games. In the four-man bobsleigh the Belgian #2 team finished in fifth place. Van Schelle also competed with Max Houben in the two-man bobsleigh. The pair finished in ninth place.

As a businessman Van Schelle owned a sports goods store in Bruxelles. In 1935 this earned him an American patent for a tennis racket. Whilst in the city Van Schelle also owned two ice rinks. Van Schelle helped with the construction of more ice rinks in Belgium, bringing back speed skating, and arranging ice hockey tournaments.

During World War II Van Schelle was active in espionage against the Germans. In January 1943 Van Schelle was arrested by the Nazis. He was taken to the transit camp Breendonk where he was executed two months later.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1920 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) BEL Martial Van Schelle
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 4 h3 r1/4
1924 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) BEL Martial Van Schelle
4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic) Belgium 3 h4 r1/3
1928 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) BEL Martial Van Schelle
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 5 h2 r1/3
4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic) Belgium 5 h2 r1/2
1936 Winter Olympics Bobsleigh (Bobsleigh) BEL Martial Van Schelle
Two, Men (Olympic) Max Houben 9
Four, Men (Olympic) Belgium 2 5

Special Notes