The sunlight peeked through the curtains, it was early, too early for my liking. But the call of the competition was stronger than my desire for a few extra minutes of sleep. Together with Hervé, my rock in the surf, I left from Den Bosch towards Leverkusen, Germany. A two-hour drive, preceding a day full of challenges and triumphs.
Arriving at the stadium, a serene calm enveloped us. This calm gave us time to acclimatize calmly. The tension built up as I picked up my starting number and met my competition. Among the Dutch athletes, I felt a healthy tension, while the Germans, who were playing a home game, radiated a relaxed atmosphere.
I prepared for the upcoming match with my trusted ritual: music in my earbuds and an extensive warm-up of three-quarters of an hour.
The first race of the day, the 100-meter series, was a challenge. I started sluggishly and let my efforts in the last part of the race wane a bit. Nevertheless, I clocked a time of 13.08 with a slight headwind, which made me have to leave Fleur Jong and Marlène van Gansewinkel in front, but kept Kiki Hendriks behind me. A satisfying result for the first race of the season.
The highlight of the day came with the 100-meter final. An improved race, in which I ran a time of 12.93, just 0.03 seconds above my personal record from Dubai 2019. A great feeling, especially since I ran the end of the 100 meters better. My start still needs to be sharper, but there is always room for improvement.
It was after this second race that my coaches asked me if I would like to run the 200 meters, given the good weather conditions. Although my body felt empty, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to achieve another World Championship limit. It was a tough race, but I managed to run under the World Championship limit in a time of 27.10. And even better, for the first time in my career, I beat the German Bensusan.
Looking at the day, I am very satisfied. This first competition of the season was one of adaptation: a new blade, a transition from Xiborg to Ossür. Although the stiffness is not yet perfect, the alignment of the blade feels great. In the week of March 6, after a number of tests, the decisions fell and I started on an Ossür blade. This is the blade that my competition also sprints with and I was curious if this might fit me even better in the run-up to the Paris 2024 games. That you switch blades a month before the start of the competition season is of course risky. You need time to get used to it. But it felt like now or never. The fact that the results during my season opener are already so close to my personal record tells me that we are on the right track. That I adapt so quickly to a new blade, I am super proud of that. It is also nice to mention that my new orthopedic instrument maker will be Rudi van Zutven together with his team at Heckert van Lierop Orthopedie in Eindhoven. They will not only support me because Ossür becomes a supplier here. Together to the top!
What does the future bring? My first goal is to get my World Championship tickets for the 100 and 200 meters by the end of May. As soon as this succeeds, I can fully train again and prepare for the World Championship in ParisWhat will happen there, I don’t know. But my hope is to take another step forward in this first decent post-COVID competition. Because that feeling, the adrenaline and the fire of competition, I have missed enormously in recent years.
The para-athletics season has now really begun, and I am ready to fight for my place on the podium. It won’t be easy, but I am determined to push my boundaries and show my passion for the sport. Together with my team, with Hervé by my side and the support of my coaches, I will continue to strive to realize my dreams.
As I stood there on the track, with the wind in my hair and the sound of the spectators in the background, I knew I was in the right place. This is where I belong, where I want to be. And despite the challenges, the fatigue, and the obstacles, I am grateful for this opportunity to do what I love most: race.
The season has only just begun, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings me. For now, I will focus my gaze on the next races, evaluate my performances, and continue to grow as an athlete. Because in the end, that’s what it’s all about: growing, learning, and above all enjoying every second on the track.