- European Champion 200m
- 7th place Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
- 5th place World Ranking 200m
- 9th place World Ranking 100m
- Dutch national record holder 60m & 200m
Who or what inspired you to become an athlete? Why?
I have always been into sports since I was little. I always wanted to become a sprinter but I wasn’t able too since I was born without my right foot. When my right lower leg got amputated at the age of 17, I got the opportunity to start sprinting using a blade. I immediately started with athletics when I finished my rehabilitation. From there I worked my way to the top. I guess the inspiration to become an elite sprinter has always been there from the start.
When did you first realize that you were talented and wanted to be an athlete? What made you choose to pursue that talent?
The first time I realized I had talent was when I competed at my first national championships. It was the first race I ran since I started training. I finished in second place, winning the silver medal. My performance didn’t go unnoticed because afterwards I got invited to visit the Dutch talent team. A couple of weeks later I joined the team.
What sports performance are you most proud of? Why?
Reaching the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. I had to run a Personal Best that season to be able to reach the standard for Tokyo. At the beginning of the winter season, which is full of only training, me and my coach made a plan together that we both really backed.
The competitions later showed that our plan really paid off. Every race I ran, I got a little bit faster and in one of the last races of the season I finally reached the standard for the Paralympic Games. I couldn’t believe I had made it but at the same time I could because I knew how much hard work there was behind all of it.
What makes all of this even sweeter, is that I ran a massive Personal Best in the semi-finals of the Games, reaching the finals and taking the Dutch national record over the 200m.
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Every athlete has to deal with injuries at some point in their career which can be quite challenging. Especially in the beginning of my career I had a couple of injuries that were holding me back. The medical team around me helped me a lot with overcoming these injuries.
Even if you’re injured as an athlete, you have to keep looking at the bigger picture and be confident everything will get better. That way you will mentally be able to deal with it, at least I was.
Which sports person is a true warrior (hero) to you? Why?
Ronald Hertog. He is a former athlete and former colleague of mine. When I started with athletics, he was the Dutch sprinter/long jumper who was amongst the top para-athletes of the world. His achievements in the sport are incredible.
He retired in 2020 and he is now my prosthetist, which is really cool.
What do you think is the key to becoming a successful athlete?
Perseverance and consistency.
What was the best advice you were ever given in your sports career? Why?
“Tomorrow’s training is more important than today’s”. I always want to push myself to the limit and so I really had to learn to listen to my body. In the beginning of my career, my body would sometimes give signals that something was not alright. I usually didn’t really listen to it because it could mean that I had to stop training, which I absolutely didn’t want to do. Neglecting this will most of the time cause an injury or more pain. In the end this will not help you at all and that’s why it’s best to just listen to what your body tells you. You have to make sure you are able to do tomorrow’s training, if you keep succeeding to do so, you are on the right track.
Can you describe to us your current training schedule? What do you do in your training that you think is key to your success? Why? (do we need to have a full workout written out? I think so. Can be valuable)
A week of training looks a bit like this:
Monday morning = sprints/accelerations, Monday afternoon = weight training
Tuesday morning = tempo’s or aerobe, Tuesday afternoon = Full body workout/core/mobility/stretching
Wednesday morning = All kinds of stuff such as jumping/technical sprints/core/mobility, Wednesday afternoon off
Thursday morning = sprints/starts/accelerations, Thursday afternoon = weight training
Friday morning = = tempo’s or aerobe, Friday afternoon = Full body workout/core/mobility/stretching
Saturday = active recovery day. Cycling low resistance/stretching
Sunday = day off
I think the balance in this schedule is what really works for me, that’s why its key to my success.
What are your favourite exercises and best training tips? Why?
My favourite exercise is starts with a starting block. The technique together with the acceleration gives me a lot of adrenaline. Exploding out of the blocks just gives such a good feeling.
What kind of diet do you prefer & do you always eat healthy food? How important is this to you as an athlete? Do you use supplements? Why?
I have a sports dietitian. Together we made an eating schedule which I’m following for a few years now. I think it’s really important for me to try and stick as much to the schedule as possible because I feel it really works for me. Luckily I like the food so it’s not that hard for me to follow it.
I also use supplements such as vitamins and of course the Victus Energy Water and Nutrition Water. These supplements really help me to get ready for a training and also help me recover the best I can.
What sacrifices you made did you think were the hardest to make in your career in sports? How do did you stay motivated?
The hardest sacrifice to make was financially and timewise to be honest. Investing years and years without getting consistent financial support was really hard. It was a full time job for me yet I didn’t make any money with it. Investing all my time and money to get to the top was definitely the hardest part of my career.
If you could choose another sport to be great at, what would it be? Why?
Football. I used to play football as a kid and I still love to watch football matches on tv. I have always been interested in football so that’s why I would choose that sport.
What are your goals for the coming year? Any other interesting future plans that we should know?
My goal for the coming year was to qualify for the World Championships. Unfortunately our World Championships got cancelled earlier this year due to Covid-19. I will still be doing a lot of races this year so my goal is to finish in the top 5 in the World Rankings 2022.
Where do you picture yourself in 15 years, and what have you accomplished by then? Choose your words wisely, because we’ll hold you to it.
Sports wise I would love to add another title such as World Champion or Paralympic Champion, next to the European Champion title I have right now. Other than that I see myself working in the sports business. Probably as a coach/staff member or maybe as a personal trainer. Time will tell.