The TL;DR of my winter training period and 60m indoor season: The puzzle is finally complete! 🧩

The TL;DR of my winter training period and 60m indoor season: The puzzle is finally complete! 🧩

It’s about time for an update! How am I doing, and what crazy adventures have I been on lately? Well, I’m still deep in my winter training period – when people ask, “What do you mean by winter training?”

Laying an Ice-Cold Foundation πŸ₯Ά

Winter training is the phase between October and the start of the competition season (indoor or outdoor). This is when you put in the hard yards, building the foundation for your upcoming races. It’s a tough time – you’re often exhausted and don’t have much energy to spare. This winter, my trainers and I decided to focus less on the indoor season and more on the bigger picture. But that didn’t mean stepping away from competition entirely! I still wanted that competitive spark – it keeps me from getting too comfortable in my “training shed” and reminds me why I love this sport so much. So, we planned on taking part in three 60m indoor meets – slightly fewer than previous years.

Coaches Must Be Joking, Right?🀣

My first meet was in Sittard on January 21st, where I kicked off the season by matching my personal best (PB) of 8.46. Honestly, I was thrilled, considering I’d trained like a beast all week. Matching my PB even when tired put a huge grin on my face. During the warm-up, the head coaches, Joep and Fynn, kept saying, “Put your foot under your hips!” My cheeky reply? “No way! You guys made me too tired for that!”

Missing a Plane? Or a Missing Plane?! 😲

After that first meet, I was pumped to compete in a 60m indoor competition in Clermont, France. They had this amazing initiative to organize a Para-series alongside a World Athletics meet – how awesome is it to share the stage with Olympic athletes outside the Netherlands?! JoΓ«l de Jong and I headed out a day early… and immediately almost missed our flight because we were too busy chatting!

Thankfully, the rest of the trip went smoothly. We landed in Lyon, where Julien from the X-Athletics Meeting whisked us off. Julien is a sweetheart, but his English is a bit rusty. Made me wish we Europeans had a common language! Luckily, though, he had an interpreter with him.

Just as JoΓ«l and I were settling into our training, we got crazy news: the flight for the rest of our team had been canceled, their flight literally gone! It left us wondering if Fynn, Zara, Cheyenne, Stijn, and Luigi would even make the meet. Luckily, Fynn thought quickly and figured out the European train system (who knew?!). The whole crew arrived just the night before – talk about cutting it close!

A special race near a special place

This competition was extra special for me. One of the doctors who saved my life in 1998 came to watch. Benoit doesn’t let me call him “the doctor” anymore, and he’s right. After all, the doctor in the trauma helicopter who made the quick decision to take me to the nearest hospital was a lifesaver, too. I wouldn’t be here if he’d stuck to the original plan of flying me to Lyon.

Back when I was an 8-year-old on a stretcher, Benoit knew it was close… but he also saw a spark of strength in me, a sense that I wasn’t done living. Twenty-six years later, he saw that spark again on the track in Clermont. With his kids in the stands, he watched me crush my 60m time, hitting 8.31 seconds.

On to the Indoor Season Finale!

Last Sunday, I got to run the 60m at the Dutch National Indoor Championships in a packed Omnisport stadium – what a rush! Right before my race, I helped a new para-athlete cope with those first-time jitters. It brought back memories of how lost I felt at my first big meet.

An hour later, it was showtime:
Focus zone.
Up the stairs into the arena’s heart.
There I was, center stage, steps from the starting blocks.
Get ready,
Set,
Go!

The start felt good, but the middle was oddly relaxed. Crossing the finish line, I thought, “Nope, that wasn’t a PB.” You can imagine my surprise when the time flashed on the board: 8.25 seconds – a new personal best! It’s also the fastest 60m ever run by a woman in my classification (even though it’s not an official Paralympic event… bummer!).

Let me tell you, this PB felt extra special because it happened on my late mother’s birthday. She’s not here anymore, but it didn’t feel that way. She was right there, giving me that extra push to make it happen. The 60m has never been my strong suit, but here I was, ending my indoor season with a massive PB. Needless to say, I’m over the moon!

After my race, I kicked back and watched some incredible performances. Femke Bol set a world record, and Cathelijn Peeters took third – the crowd went wild! I train with Cathelijn back in Vught and let’s just say we’re both known for our hearty laughs. It’s a relief to learn I’m not alone in the high-pitched giggle department!

The Puzzle is Complete! 🧩

We’ve made a major change to my starting technique, ditching the traditional 4-point start that wasn’t getting me anywhere. Now I’m using a 3-point start, and it feels so much better – freeing, even. That sense of freedom is crucial for me to run fast. This switch is a huge relief! Before, I started to feel trapped; now, I can focus on exploding out of the blocks. This change has already shaved two-tenths off my 60-meter time – I can’t wait to see what it means for my 100-meter and 200-meter!

I’ve never felt this good or this confident. Everything’s fallen into place, and I love every minute. I’m training hard at Papendal and my club in Vught, and the two coaches I work with are fantastic. They’re supportive, passionate, and always open to my input. It’s truly a team effort.

Things have changed quite a bit at Papendal in the last two years. It used to be separate worlds for national and talent coaches, but now it’s much more collaborative. This new setup is a big improvement!

Now it’s time to return to my “training shed” – a training camp in Tenerife awaits on March 16th! My outdoor season opener is May 9th, a 100m race at my club in Vught during the Harry Schulting Games. The countdown is on!

Oh, and amidst all this, I’m also planning a wedding! Exciting times all around. 2024 is shaping up to be an incredible year – I can feel it!

2023: My Journey of Challenges, Triumph, and Outlook Towards Paris 2024

2023: My Journey of Challenges, Triumph, and Outlook Towards Paris 2024

It’s time to reflect on an intense and inspiring year. 2023 was a year of change, growth, and unexpected adventures for me. This has also been the year that lays the foundation for, hopefully, success in 2024.

πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈ Sprinting Through Challenges

The year began with a sprint – literally. I focused on the 60 meters, determined to improve my time. I started with 8.7 seconds, which soon felt like the starting point of something bigger. Each training session and every drop of sweat brought me closer to my goal.

🌍 An Adventurous Turn

Next, it was time for a breathtaking turn. I traveled to Alagna for a campaign with Samsung, an experience that broadened my horizons and showed me how versatile life as an athlete can be. This adventure with the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro was more than just a trip – it was a revelation of possibilities.

When I returned from Alagna, there was one more competition in the indoor season, the NK Indoor in Apeldoorn. I returned from Italy on Friday and improved my time to 8.46 seconds on Sunday. That nearly quarter-second improvement in the 60 meters was a physical feat and a mental victory.

🏑 A New Chapter at Home

My personal life also took a significant turn. The decision to move was both exciting and daunting. The quick sale of our house and the search for a new home were a whirlwind of emotions and challenges. But as always, we found a way through the storm.

πŸ” Technological Leaps

The switch from the Xiborg V to the Γ–ssur Cheetah Extreme blade marked a new chapter in my athletic career. This change and the start of the collaboration with Heckert and van Lierop opened new doors and opportunities.

πŸ₯‡ A Year of Records

From the moment I switched to the new blade, I knew this season would not be flawless. Getting a new leg that feels different and reacts differently will affect your speed. I have complete confidence in myself, and this is not my first switch. On the track, I quickly found my rhythm back, with a personal record of 12.76 seconds in the 100 meters in Nottwil. From that moment, every race felt like a step closer to my dream.

🌟 Challenge and Triumph in Paris

The World Championships in Paris were a test of my resilience. A new socket, alignment including a different category blade. During the 100-meter heats, my starting block failed, almost costing me participation in the final. This was a heavy setback; to make it worse, I thought it was my lousy start. Later, after analyzing the footage, we saw that I almost pushed the block off the rails.

Despite this huge setback, I recovered reasonably well in the final later that day. The most important lesson of that day was the power of perseverance. Then, later that week, winning Silver in the 200 meters was not just an achievement; it was a confirmation of my determination.

πŸ“¦ A Race Against Time

The move was a marathon in itself. The key handover and the tight deadline were a race against time, but we made it. This was more than just a physical move; it was a transition to a new chapter in my life.

As I settle into my new home, I look forward to 2024. The winter months are a time of training and preparation for the Paralympic Games in Paris. Every moment, every training session brings me closer to that goal. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. With your support, I believe anything is possible.

I train every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at Papendal under the guidance of Joep Janssen and Fynn van Buuren. Every Friday, I train at the home track Prins Hendrik in Vught, where Joep Janssen also gives training. What a great team and amazing coaches. We keep each other sharp.

All thanks to the coaches for the past year.

Thanks to Atletiekunie for providing training facilities and facilitating competitions, tournaments, and training camps.

Also, thanks to Vughtse Sportclub Prins Hendrik for providing training facilities.

Support from sponsors is essential to achieve the highest possible. Thank you so much again for your support.

Thanks to all sponsors:
Van Dort Letselschade
Adidas
Tsuru

Thanks to Fonds Gehandicaptensport.

Thanks to Sport Stories.

Finally, thanks to my fiancΓ©.
My rock in the surf.
We do this together.
You are always there for me.
Without you I would not be able to get where I am.

πŸŽ†Let’s make a bang in 2024.

The Day Is Here: my World Championships Para Athletics Begin

The Day Is Here: my World Championships Para Athletics Begin

It’s nearly time. I’ve finally arrived after months of toil, sweat, and perseverance. Tomorrow, I’ll be running the first race of the World Championships. It’s more than just a race; it’s the first time I’m running in front of a real, tangible audience after such a long time.

Strangely enough, I feel more butterflies for this World Championships than I did for the recent Paralympic Games. Maybe it’s because there will be many more familiar faces in the crowd this time. Family, friends, they will all be there, ready to cheer me on. It’s an atmosphere I haven’t felt in a while.

There’s a tension in the air, almost like those butterflies you get just before you step on stage. Yes, that’s what it feels like as if I’m back on the stage, ready to play my role. Only this time, the role is myself.

The preparation for this ‘feast’ was intense but worth it. The training camp in Barcelona felt good. Right now, I feel like I’m in the shape of my life, fresh in both my mind and body. Whether this is enough to score a medal, I can’t predict. After all, it’s not only my form that counts but also that of my competitors.

para athlete Kimberly Alkemade

I know that if it’s up to my team, we definitely won’t fall short. Joep and Fynn have made me fitter and stronger than ever before. My equipment is also in top shape, thanks to Rudi and his team at Heckert and van Lierop.

What’s also unique about this tournament is the energy you feel when you stand among the other athletes worldwide. I see in them what I do and who I am. We all have a goal and work towards it, without guaranteeing whether it will work. But the desire, the will to succeed, that’s what drives us.

Thursday is the day of the first race of the tournament. I’m looking forward to it immensely. It will be an exciting day, but I’m ready for whatever comes. I am Ready to run, fight, and show what I can do. It’s time for the World Championships in Paris!