The outcome was fatal. Since his admission to Saint-Joseph de Gilly hospital where he succumbed to a heart attack, Joël Robert’s survival depended on a machine, his vital functions were impaired while his brain remained without irrigation for about thirty minutes. .
“It’s horrible to imagine Joël in a vegetative state when he has always lived at more than a hundred an hour”, confided Josiane Glinne, his partner for 33 years.
For years, this man as sturdy as a hundred-year-old oak had been experiencing serious health problems. Diabetic, he had had a foot amputated. He had also survived five strokes. Recently, it was heart problems, water in the lungs, and a coronavirus infection that had weakened him.
An exceptional athlete
In the world of off-road motorcycles, the disappearance of Joël Robert arouses great emotion. It must be said that our compatriot had marked the discipline with his immense talent and his sometimes… difficult character.
This pure Walloon was not an athlete like the others. Extremely gifted on a motorcycle, this force of nature could afford to combine competitions and post-race escapades without compromising his success.
Those who knew him in the sixties and seventies, when he stifled his rivals with his talent, can spread anecdotes about Joël until the end of the night.
“When I hear my father tell about all the stupid things that Joël has committed during his career, I find it hard to understand that he became six times world motocross champion”, Stefan Everts, the son of ‘Harry. “And yet, Joël managed to lead a life of chair stick while achieving extraordinary sporting exploits. “
The proof is by his six world titles and the 50 victories in Grand Prix. Records that will hold for thirty years before Stefan Everts strikes them off the shelves.
Tender and gruff
Joël Robert was a romantic character who had never assimilated the politically correct tone that befits so well current athletes. His opinion was falling like a cleaver. It could hurt as much as it was the result of a relevant analysis, supported by the arguments of a man of a intelligence far above the average. It was one of Joël’s many character traits: behind his somewhat rustic manners and his often flowery language, beyond the shell he had built for himself, there was a gentleman of kindness, of exceptional generosity and sensitivity. But Joël Robert, by dint of not submitting to the compromises of life in society, also had the appearance of a dictator. The many collaborators he has brought in his wake to organize the Chinelle (an enduro whose concept has attracted thousands of spectators for over forty years in the Franchimont-Philippeville region) can attest to this.
The disappearance of Joël Robert leaves a great void. It is a page in the history of Papa’s Belgium that is turning; the hero of thousands of compatriots who is leaving.
But we still have a multitude of very strong memories. Those of this stocky and gifted little Walloon, from a modest background, who regularly rubbed shoulders with members of our royal family, Hollywood stars (he had become a friend of Steve McQueen), captains of industry and who never displayed his exploits to the general public. Between a social evening and a zinc beer from a village bar, Joël didn’t hesitate for a quarter of a second.