Who is the first female on the Xiborg V blade?

Who is the first female on the Xiborg V blade?

I’ve already run with it at the ONK Para Athletics, but I was not allowed to make it public at that time. That changes now: “My new blade is a Xiborg V.” And, Xiborg is also a new partner for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Xiborg supplies me with this high-performance blade and supports with the alignment.

I like Xiborg because they make the blades by hand. This blade is not factory work, but high-quality Japanese craftsmanship. This makes it very personal. Ken Endo, the Xiborg V developer, makes the blades as if they were for his children. 

Xiborg and Ken go beyond just developing blades for top athletes. In Japan, they provide other amputees the opportunity to use their blade library. This approach allows both children and adults with a prosthesis to exercise again in an accessible manner. It offers several brands of blades from this prosthesis library, such as those of Össur & Ottobock

This way, everyone with an amputation has the opportunity to exercise again. For example, you can rent and test blades and gain experience with different brands and in various sports. 

xiborg blade library

Xiborg is a young company that is relatively new to the market and based in Tokyo. Xiborg’s blades are still under development, and I will contribute to this. If the global situation allows, Keith and I will go to Tokyo to test and see how we can make the blade even more suitable for me. 

In the long run, who knows, a blade to which I have contributed will come onto the market. How cool is that ?! 

Since July, I have only been gaining experience with the Xiborg V blade. During the first days of testing, I was still a bit reluctant. It didn’t feel remarkable. In the video, I saw that my contact with the ground for far too long. The difference with the blade – on which I have achieved my successes to date – is enormous. My old blade reacts too fast, and it interrupts my stride. 

When we spoke with Ken and shared videos with him, we quickly discovered that the blade needed to be a bit stiffer and that the alignment was far from optimal; the blade leaned back too much. Because of this, I planted every spike in the track and nailed myself to the track. 

The first connector which attaches the blade to the socket is quite heavy, and it also colored my experience. However, the connector was necessary to determine and test the length correctly. When the length was correct and the adjustment was better, the blade started to work for me. Xiborg sent a stiffer blade, a lighter adapter, and Hervé put the blade more on its tip. The Xiborg V and I came to life. 

By September 10th, I was sure. This is the blade for me. I’m going to fly with this.

All in all, this was quite an exciting period. After my vacation, I quickly came to a decision on the blade. A week and a half later, I stepped into the blocks with a blade that I had barely trained on. 

Considering that you usually need about two months to get used to a new leg, and I was going to run at the ONK Para Athletics within a week and a half after making a choice. Also, Keith decided not to train on sprint endurance, but mainly on strength and technical aspects. Before the ONK, I had only run 100 meters on the Xiborg V once. 

The period after the ONK, I went into winter training. During training, I get a better feeling with the blade and how I need to hit the Xiborg V. This, in combination with a better basic technique, creates more balance between my left and right leg. 

Sometimes you have to take a few steps back and then make a jump. I feel like I did with the Xiborg V!

old an dnew xiborg v
Silver at the ONK Para Athletics

Silver at the ONK Para Athletics

Later than expected, the party called ONK Para Athletics. This time it took place in Tilburg at AV Attila instead of at Eindhoven Atletiek. To be honest, I did not feel any pressure to perform. I thought 2020 was partly a disappointing year and I’m sure I’m not alone. Though, I’m glad I was forced to put on the spikes and run.

This year is a downer for athletics in general, but for Para Athletics, it is even more disappointing. The Diamond League started and we – Para Athletes – had to make do with national competition and test matches “made official”. With everything happening this year, I really didn’t feel the need to prove myself. As a result, I had not raced yet this season.

winter training 2020

Simply put, I had other things on my mind. I changed trainers and teams twice because the situation wasn’t sustainable for me due to me having to travel 2,5 hours a day on a good day and way more on a bad one. So a new team had to be shaped and get used to each other. My trainers, Joep and Keith, had to find a method that works for both of them. In retrospect, this went very well but that is mostly luck.

So I quickly got used to the club Prins Hendrik and their track. Luckily that wasn’t too hard, because the environment felt like coming home. The track and club are much more than just an athletics track, it’s alive with people! Young and old are there during my training sessions and I really enjoy that. Everyone is welcome.

In addition, I had some minor inconveniences in the last few weeks before it ONK Para Athletics and I went on vacation for a short two weeks to process everything with Hervé. We had to because this was not the year we were preparing for. It became something completely different and it had to be dealed with.

But that’s done now and when we returned from vacation with a few important decisions ahead of us. Soon, I can tell you more about it. All of this means that I have not been able to train for the past two months as I usually would. Which I certainly felt this during the race in Tilburg.

To get the feeling for racing again, I ran my first race of the year on Friday, September 18th, during the Wageningen Track Meeting. When I think about it, it’s bizarre that I haven’t ran an official race since Dubai. The pressure I put on myself in the run-up to this match was considerable. There I ran a 13.56 with a +0.5 m/s tailwind. 

Last year I opened with 13.8 and finished with 12.9. Although the time is not what you would expect from me, I was not dissatisfied given the targeted training that I was unable to do. This race was to get the feeling back and Keith & Joep were also satisfied with it. Who knows what next year has in store for me. 

Two days later was the main event, the ONK Para Athletics at AV Attila in Tilburg. On that day, I hardly felt any pressure. I went for a race to show myself and to improve my time in Wageningen. That morning I picked my racing kit and I chose the Adidas racing suit for the first time.

So Joep and I drove to Tilburg, without Hervé because of the Corona measures. Which is weird because he has been there at nearly every race. So he has not seen me race in-person outside training this year.

Once there, it was nice to see all my former teammates from both Papendal and Amsterdam again. If this had been a ‘normal’ year, we would have already been on a training camp together and would have seen and spoken to each other a lot more.

Finally, I could get ready for the race. During the ONK we race in mixed series. The Netherlands actually could organize a T62/64 race, we have 4 women that run at world level with Marlène van Gansewinkel, Fleur Jong, Marlou van Rhijn and myself. Sadly we won’t all be there.

The race went fine. Fleur won the race, which was completely expected given her form this season. My reaction at the start was excellent, a definete improvement over Wageningen. I partialy did what we Joep & Keith told me to do. The second part of the race was a bit too relaxed. Helping me to improve my time by 23 hundredths. To a 13.33 and I am not dissatisfied with that. It is a breath away from the Dutch limit for the Paralympic Games (13.30) and I won the Silver with it. 

The winter training season has started for me, much earlier than in previous years. This has to do with Joep and Keith’s plan for 2021 and because the circumstances made this year “the year of reorganization”. I feel fit and healthy and I have the energy to go for it again.

Do you want to ask or tell me something? Please do in in the comments, I read them and I love to respond!

A quick getaway

A quick getaway

For some athletes, the Coronavirus pandemic was a convenient crisis. For others, less so. Every athlete deals with the situation in their own way. One person might merely sustain their level of fitness, another might focus on achieving peak performance.

For myself, the recent pandemic was a convenient one that didn’t make me feel I lost much progress over the past year; in fact, it was a very successful one. My achievement in Dubai works on me in a special way. People expect things from me now. Before, I was an underdog at best, and I enjoyed that position. You’re still uninhibited and nobody expects anything of your debut performance. Now, the world feels different.

I need to be more critical of my environment these days. I’m also asking myself questions like “How do I stay true to myself in this world of professional sports?”, “How do I keep my own identity in the face of rising expectations?” and “Is the world of professional athletics really as unforgiving as people say? Or is it mostly just hard work and the focus on creating a little world of your own?”

I’d like to be “a sweetheart and an upbeat type of woman” but how do you retain a sweet personality in this world of high performance? Before this whole adventure started, I worked in healthcare because I wanted to take care of people who are in a bad position. That caring aspect is still a major part of me. I don’t tend to put myself in first place, I tend to give that place up to others. That has changed now. The Coronavirus pandemic gave me time to stop and reflect on myself.

And to stop and look at everything that has happened to me and what has changed since.

For a brief moment, I think back on that time I was eight years old, in the hospital after the accident. I kept taking baths to soak the bandages off the stump of my leg, because unwrapping them hurt too much. And I really wanted to do it ‘all by myself’. I wouldn’t allow the nurses to touch it. This idea of doing things ‘all by myself’ is a big part of my personality. I like to have things under control and I don’t like handing over responsibilities to others. On one hand, this really helps me in making decisions, as I trust myself more than anyone. On the other hand, this also means I find it difficult to give up control over things.

You can assert control over certain things in life. But if there is one thing in life that can never be guaranteed, it is certainty.

I was confronted with this once again on the first of July, 2019, when my aunt died. She was my favourite aunt and she had always been there for me. My bond with her was special. At least all the good memories I have of her remain. I now have time to mourn her, to be sad she isn’t around anymore. 

This means that over the course of the past year there have been many moments I wasn’t feeling all that well. And even though it’s been more than a year, for some reason the loss of my aunt seems to impact me all the harder now. And that is ok, those feelings are valid. 

I recently finished a book about a woman who survived a plane crash and suffered through great loss. A small quote from the book stuck with me:

“Nothing remains lost forever. Who or what we have lost becomes a part of ourselves. Who or what was once part of your past, will become part of your future as well. Like Einstein proved, energy cannot be destroyed but can only be made to change its form. Loss brings you closer to the love you once had -or still have. The deeper the bond, the greater the sense of loss, the greater the loss, the deeper the feeling of love.”

Through these experiences of loss you tend to face life differently. You stop taking things for granted. So if this year isn’t about anything, let it then be about me.

A new training location, new coaches, my friends and family close to home. Having my dogs close to me to hug and walk them whenever I want. My home as a place of rest. The man I love and I back together as a team once more.

It’s time to enjoy life and be happy again. To soar over the tracks, to find joy in running again. Because I will make the way things are going now a blueprint for my athletic career for the years to come.

It will still be hard work, but it will no longer be in a hard world.

I took a little two-week holiday for some physical and mental rest. My winter season starts now. I’ll build myself up calmly. And in September I’ll run another race or two.

Keith Antoine, my coach, told me to think on where I stood before I went on my holiday. At that point, I thought he was talking about absolutes like times and fitness. He then told me: “Imagine your destination lies north, and you know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Then you’ll know that when you see the sun set in the west in the evening, you’re still heading in the right direction. Knowing where you stand means knowing that you’re heading the right way. That’s all the certainty you need. No navigation necessary.”

Learn to enjoy the process and every little step that makes you better.

Translation by BeatTheTrail.com

My new coaches, just like the movie

My new coaches, just like the movie

Training at PH Vught

As you might know, I brought my training facilities closer to home. For about a month, I train at PH in Vught (near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands), which feels like coming home.

Do you know the movie “The Next Karate Kid”?

I’ve dreamt of being trained by someone with a similar philosophy and personality to mister Myagi from this movie. And what do you know, dreams can come true because I’ve found someone like that, Keith Antoine (UK). This man is calm, composed, and he radiates it, which helps me a lot.

Keith responds well to me as well. He sees something that tells him, “She’s the one.” At this point, he feels like the perfect coach for me. He will get the best out of me over the coming four years, both physically as mentally.

He won’t do this by himself but with the help of Joep Janssen. Joep is a young and talented trainer and is eager to learn. Both Joep and myself will grow, which is beautiful and fitting to what I try to accomplish.

With Keith being in the United Kingdom and COVID-19 raging, we communicate and share information through WhatsApp and Zoom. The three of us communicate daily on my training and how I experienced them. The conversations teach me a lot, and it confirms that I made the right choice for me.

The previous month we mostly explored my physical- and mental state to build it up as quickly and safely next season.

The three of us are excited, and we pushed my body a bit too hard. It was causing my body to react and slow us down a little bit. It caused a minor injury under my foot. It meant I went swimming and cycling instead of running.

Under the past regime, I would stress out because of these sorts of issues. But Keith helped me to see it from a different perspective. He reframed this issue as a bit of information to learn from for the upcoming winter season.

The winter season starts September 7th but before I start, I’ll be on vacation. This time off will provide some much-needed rest to be ready for the marathon towards Tokyo.

Deciding on this route has already brought some opportunities and this tells me that I did the right thing. I am where I need to be for the next four years to focus and excel in what is coming.

As Churandy Martina would say: “I am happy.”

As you might know, I brought my training facilities closer to home. For about a month, I train at PH in Vught (near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands), which feels like coming home.

Do you know the movie “The Next Karate Kid”?

I’ve dreamt of being trained by someone with a similar philosophy and personality to mister Myagi from this movie. And what do you know, dreams can come true because I’ve found someone like that, Keith Antoine (UK). This man is calm, composed, and he radiates it, which helps me a lot.

Keith responds well to me as well. He sees something that tells him, “She’s the one.” At this point, he feels like the perfect coach for me. He will get the best out of me over the coming four years, both physically as mentally.

He won’t do this by himself but with the help of Joep Janssen. Joep is a young and talented trainer and is eager to learn. Both Joep and myself will grow, which is beautiful and fitting to what I try to accomplish.

With Keith being in the United Kingdom and COVID-19 raging, we communicate and share information through WhatsApp and Zoom. The three of us communicate daily on my training and how I experienced them. The conversations teach me a lot, and it confirms that I made the right choice for me.

The previous month we mostly explored my physical- and mental state to build it up as quickly and safely next season.

The three of us are excited, and we pushed my body a bit too hard. It was causing my body to react and slow us down a little bit. It caused a minor injury under my foot. It meant I went swimming and cycling instead of running.

Under the past regime, I would stress out because of these sorts of issues. But Keith helped me to see it from a different perspective. He reframed this issue as a bit of information to learn from for the upcoming winter season.

The winter season starts September 7th but before I start, I’ll be on vacation. This time off will provide some much-needed rest to be ready for the marathon towards Tokyo.

Deciding on this route has already brought some opportunities and this tells me that I did the right thing. I am where I need to be for the next four years to focus and excel in what is coming.

As Churandy Martina would say: “I am happy.”