Four proud Olympians were in the spotlight at Erasmus Plaza on Monday because of their performances at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Maaike Head won gold in the lightweight double sculls and Marloes Keetels reached the women’s field hockey final with her team. Mitchel Steenman and Joost van de Burg did not win a medal.
In the shining sun, hundreds of visitors to the annual HeartBeat Festival had a chance to cheer for their Olympic fellow students.
“I spend a lot of time here and it’s therefore quite special to be honoured on this campus,” Marloes Keetels, a Business Administration student, explained.
The 23-year-old hockey midfielder has mixed feelings about ending second with her team. The Netherlands lost to Great Britain in a nail-biting final. “It still hurts to think about it.”
When asked if her team lost the gold or won the silver, she said: “It currently feels like we lost the gold, but it will eventually feel like we won the silver. We can of course be proud of our achievement. It’s an Olympic medal.”
The athlete from North Brabant, who still refers to herself as an “ordinary student” in spite of her performance in Rio, is already looking forward to the next Olympic Games. “We’ll be going for gold in Tokyo with a revitalised team.”
24/7 dedication and training
EUR graduate Head (Medicine) also enjoyed the event. The 32-year-old Skadi member had been dreaming about Olympic gold since she was ten. “It’s great that I was able to make that dream a reality 22 years later. It’s difficult to describe how strange it feels to win an Olympic gold medal.”
Head explained that preparing for the Games was tough. “It was a year of 24/7 dedication and training. That regime, that total commitment to the sport, was difficult to get used to in the beginning. There was no partying and I rarely saw my friends.” Nevertheless, the Olympian is positive about the past year. “I enjoyed every training camp. It was nice to be out in my boat in the sun.”
Head, from Amsterdam, started at Skadi as a student around ten years ago. In addition to rowing at a high level, she worked at the bar, participated in committees and enjoyed parties. She considers it the ideal combination. Skadi clearly gives a person the opportunity to grow as a sportsman or sportswoman: it was the second time that Head took part in the Games. She finished eighth in London in 2012. “I’m very happy for Skadi that we won a medal this year. It’s clear that there’s a great deal of enthusiasm for rowing. Everyone considers it very special.”
As far as Head is concerned, she will not be the last Skadi member to win a medal. She intends to use her achievement to inspire the next generation of rowers. “Although your competitors are of course a factor, I’ve always thought you can go a long way if you really want something, focus entirely on your goal and do everything you can to achieve that goal.”
Gold for Passing Shot
Winners at the most recent EU Games were also honoured on Monday. The tennis players of Passing Shot won gold at the “Olympic Games for students” that took place in Croatia last summer. The Antibarbari football team also earned special recognition: although match results were disappointing, the team received the Fair Play Award.