Age: 27

Country: Netherlands

Weight category: -70kg

Achievements: 2013 World Championship bronze medallist, 2013 World Judo Masters winner, four-time European champion 

Starting judo

I started judo when I was seven years old because I had been diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), my parents wanted me to do judo. There was an article in a magazine that wrote a story about children with ADHD and that it was good for those children to take up judo. Judo is the only sport I liked a lot, I have done a lot of other sports, but judo was the only sport that kept me interested. And now I'm one of the best of the world, so I'm thankful to my parents for starting me in judo.

Representing The Netherlands

I recently returned to the Netherlands after a holiday and I was flying during the evening, so it was already dark when I've got back. To see the Netherlands in the dark with the lights next to the street and lights of houses from above was very special. I like the Netherlands so much, and so I'm honoured that I can represent this country. Every time I am crowned a champion and I hear the anthem of my country, it feels special.

Judo is more than a sport

The beautiful thing about judo is the respect. You can only train with somebody if you have respect for the other person. It's for sure that you can't like everybody, but even when you dislike somebody, you need to have respect.

Being a role model

In the Netherlands people do not view/see a judo player as a very big name athlete. So when I'm out walking not many people will recognise me. When I'm on the judo mat, I don't feel like a role model, however, its when I see that children are nervous when they see me, I remember that I can be a role model for them. I need to get used to the idea that children would like to have my autograph and photograph.

On winning bronze at Rio 2013

This is my most beautiful medal I have ever won. I got injured at the beginning of July when I tore my MCL of my knee. At the beginning of August I could do some randori (free practice) again, but after four training sessions I tore it again, which meant just two weeks before the worlds [World Championships] I couldn't do much training and so therefore I'm proud that I won the bronze medal with the injury. I think that if I was fully fit I wouldn't have been happy with the bronze because I had only won gold this year, but now, with preparation that looked more on par for the Tour de France (I needed to cycle a lot) rather than preparation for the Judo Worlds, I am very happy with my bronze medal. And I'm still the number one on the world ranking list and I like that also. I'm 22, one day I will win that world title.

Judo in The Netherlands

A lot of young children start with judo, but in the Netherlands judo isn't a very popular sport on television. Everyone knows you when you're World Champion ice skating, but when you're World Champion judo, I don't think a lot of people will know you.

Judo's continued growth

That there are now Grand Prix and Grand Slam tournaments and a World Judo Masters event which is a good thing. I'm glad there are four Grand Slam tournaments, if you win a medal at a Grand Slam, it's very special.

The future

I want to be the best and when I'm the best, I want to stay the best. And if you're the best, you will win the big titles. I want to fight with attractive judo. Sometimes I have to fight tactical, but I love ippons and every fight I'll try to win with ippon.

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