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Exclusive: Olympic Gold Windsurfer Speaks Out on Kitesurfing

I must have been 12 years old when my dad asked my what I wanted to be in life and what I wanted to achieve. That was ten years ago now. I didn’t have to think long and said I wanted to be a windsurfer and I wanted to perform at the 2012 Olympics and ….win gold.

My dad did not blink when I told him this. He looked me straight in the eyes and said: “OK, how are we going to do that?” He then helped me draft a list of things to do that ended with London 2012 GOLD.

And what an incredible and amazing journey that has been! Even if I would not have accomplished my dream, I am so grateful to have experienced this road to Windsurfing’s last Olympic Gold Medal at London 2012.

It is not about the destination it is about the journey; this sounds like such a cliché but the weird thing is, it is true. My Mom, Dad, brother, my coach Aaron McIntosh, my training partners Zach Plasvic and JP Tobin, my mates from the island Texel, the travel, all the adventures I have experienced, all the inspiring people I have met. WOW!  Thinking back to all this makes me nostalgic. It has been a crazy, crazy, crazy trip!

And now after two weeks of celebration and decorations, I can honestly say that I would have never imagined that winning a gold medal would have made the impact it has on people around the world. It did not change me as far as I can judge. But people around me are so proud and want to be part of this golden feeling. It is almost humbling and scary. I have never been in so many pictures in two weeks time as I have been in all my life (and previous lives), for example!

You must understand my dad and my older brother inspired me. I grew up and I still live on Texel. Texel is one of the five Wadden islands off the Dutch coast to the north of our little amazing country. I grew up with water all around me and I followed in my older brother’s footsteps and jumped on a wind surfboard. We are a windsurfing family! I grew up dreaming of the Olympics as a windsurfer.

Considering this, it is very weird to realize that this was the last Olympics for windsurfing. When I heard the news I was very surprised. I knew that kitesurfing would be added to the Olympic games, but I thought it would take some more time to grow the sport of kite course racing into a more mature, healthy and established competition sport.

I was even more surprised that windsurfing was traded in for kitesurfing. In other words I am not against kitesurfing but I do believe it should replace any other older sailing class in the Olympics, not windsurfing. But that is all ISAF politics that I do not want to get involved in. I am an athlete, someone who loves to perform on the water with fair means. That is not my game.

But what really concerns me are all the kids, like me, who dreamed of competing at the games and who have been working their asses off to become the best in their age group. All the effort of the athletes, parents, trainers, coaches, sailing associations — gone to waste.

The legal action of the RS:X class against ISAF I do not get involved in. It was a close vote but it was a honest vote as far as I know. You know, in my game, if you lose you lose. That is it, and to me it sounded like they lost the vote.

So now I am in the lucky circumstance that I can compete at the Olympics in windsurfing and can continue in kitesurfing. And yes, at the moment I just started training for the Kitesurfing Course Racing World Championships in Sardinia in October. I know I have a long way to go to get up to speed and to get used to the sport and the gear. There are some very experienced riders out there already. If I feel at all a bit comfortable surfing around the cans properly, I will compete at the Worlds. But otherwise I will just go and check it out.

Results in RS:X

2009

1st Miami ORC,  ISAF World Cup

6th Buzious South American Championships.

1st Palma  ISAF World Cup

1st Medemblick ISAF World Cup

14th European Championships, Israel.

3rd World Championships, Weymouth.

2010

1st Miami  World Cup

4th  Auckland

3rd NZ RSX Nationals

3rd Palma World Cup

10th Medemblick  World Cup

2nd Sail 4 Gold  World Cup

7th World Championships

1st Perth Test Regatta

2011

1st Miami OCR World Cup

2nd Sail Auckland

1st NZ Rsx Nats

1st Palma World Cup

3rd Sail 4 Gold World Cup

1st Olympic Test Event, Weymouth.

2nd Sail Melbourne World Cup.

1st ISAF RSX World Championships Perth

2012

4th World Championships Cadiz

1st Sail 4 Gold World Cup, Weymouth

Gold London 2012 Olympic games

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