Josine Koning: Maarten van der Weijden 10 km openwater zwemmen
Hockey international and player from Den Bosch, European Championship gold: 2017 & 2019, World Cup gold: 2018, CT gold: 2017, Pro League Gold: 2017 & 2019, STOX ambassador since 2018
The moment that Maarten van der Weijden won gold during the Olympic Games in 2008 is less important to me. It was during a presentation by Maarten that he provided his own commentary on his golden race gave me goosebumps. His story is of course special in itself. In 2001 he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. He underwent 4 courses of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant for 2 years. In 2005 he was declared cured. During his presentation, he said that the patient himself has no influence on the healing process. He therefore does not think it fair to make the outside world believe that he himself has conquered cancer, because he was supposedly a top athlete and can persevere so well. He went into chemotherapy fit. He said nicely: "I have won gold myself, but I have not won from cancer." "I was just lucky". He emphasized that it is therefore not a choice whether you can overcome cancer or not. In other words, those who have died of cancer cannot give you a stamp that they have not fought hard enough or are weak. After these tough and difficult years, he was able to focus on the 2008 Olympic Games from 2005 with his motto: Getting better every day, but with a specific goal. Full focus on gold in 2008. He went a long way for that. Six months before the Games, he had even converted his bedroom into a climate chamber and he slept in a tent measuring 2.5 meters high. He could set it himself "at what height" he wanted to be. These heights vary from 300 to 10,000 meters. This improves your stamina; you actually build up natural EPO. He went so far as to say that if his girlfriend slept with him, she had to sleep in that tent too. Fantastic. The 10 km race is of course terribly long and it took him almost 2 hours. As he said, he was not the fastest swimmer. So he had to rely on his stamina and be sharp. During the race he realizes that he is indeed fitter and therefore faster than the rest. He feels that the moment he actually swims forward to the lead quite easily, because earlier in the race he thought he could no longer overtake first position and should focus on silver or bronze. In addition, at a crucial moment he chooses a different line from his competitors, who were too busy with each other and I chose the shortest route. And suddenly he realizes that he is first and that he now had to accelerate and hold on. Then he said you did it then it's all so unreal. Pieter van den Hoogenband jumps around his neck and congratulates him, and Maarten says in his ear: Take it easy. So unreal that he was told he had leukemia, it was so unreal that he had won gold. It wasn't until his girlfriend was standing next to him that it dawned on him.