Medical student Mauk Moerman demonstrated last weekend that studying and taking part successfully in top-class sport can indeed go hand in hand. The student, from the province of Zeeland, won four rounds successively in the Dutch Open, held at the Indoor Sports Centre in Eindhoven. He was only finally beaten in the semi-finals of the Netherlands’ largest international tournament. Moerman has mixed feelings about his performance.

“On the one hand I’m very satisfied, but I could have done better,” he feels. He lost ultimately to the Swiss entrant, Guillaume Pave. “I could have beaten him, but I made a small mistake.” Moerman did win in the consolation final. “I was aiming to be champion, but I’m also happy with a bronze,” decided the former Dutch under-18 champion.

University studies

There’s absolutely no problem in pursuing academic studies while also taking part in top-class sport, notes the 19-year-old. “It works well, as long as you keep up with it all.” That’s why Moerman plans attending lectures and completing assignments around his training duties.

Moerman: “On weekdays I have lectures in the mornings and afternoons, and two hours of training in the evenings. Generally I then have to spend time on my studies.” There’s usually no place for the typical student weekday drinks and parties for Moerman. “That’s part of it, and it’s my own choice. Going out is great, but my main focus is my sport.”

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Mauk Moerman (tweede van rechts) met mede-medaillewinnaars Jahiane Ginga (r), Guillaume Pave (l) en Guillaume Blanchard. Image credit: Marcel van de Kerkhof

Olympic dream

Born in the city of Goes in the south-western Netherlands, Moerman grew up in the top-class sporting world. His father is a judo teacher at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. “I started straight away with judo when I had to get my swimming diplomas. I was pretty much brought up on the sport,” recalls the first-year student.

Someone who is used to combining top-class sport at the very highest level, with studying medicine, is Olympic gold-medallist and world-champion Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland. “Epke has been a source of inspiration to me, even though he practises a different sport.” Moerman dreams of following Zonderland’s example by winning a gold at the Olympic Games. “I’m doing everything I can to make my Olympic dream come true.”