A Flying Start: Para-Athletics Season Kicked Off

A Flying Start: Para-Athletics Season Kicked Off

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.

Goodbye 2022, you were quite the year

Goodbye 2022, you were quite the year

Immediately after my last post, I started the annual build-up period for the competition season. The Winter Training. Anyone in Athletics can tell you, you’re going to break down. So do I. But I’m going great except for some minor aches and coughs.

Christmas is now behind us, and during these days, I have enjoyed the time with my family immensely. But, you also think of the people you are having a hard time with or those you have lost.

As I write this, we live in the last hours of 2022, and I look back on a year in which I have done a lot of difficult work. Work that is of enormous importance for my development toward the upcoming World Championship in Paris this summer. It was grueling, but I could tell from everything that it was essential to do.

At the same time, I feel the fatigue of the past 3 months of training. Three months in which I’ve taken giant steps. I feel much more vital than in recent years. Not in the least because of one of the new Para-athletics national coaches I work with. You may already know him, Joep Janssen. Congratulations, Joe! This means I have a team at tournaments because, if I’m honest about the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, I missed that.

This was a challenging year, one without serious tournaments. A year in which the unique competition in Mexico failed due to the failure of American Airlines, Aer Lingus, Swissport, and other aviation-related companies. Yet this year also had its charm.

I decided to volunteer every Saturday for the Prince Hendrik club. The need to mean something to someone else grew. Now I help give training to children with multiple disabilities every Saturday. I’m not Kimberly, the top athlete for a while. That feels good.

The Camino de Portuguese. I walked 125 km in 6 days, a beautiful walk. I often think back to this adventure. The fact that I did this alone is a source of strength.
In addition, on the birthday of Hervé and my father, May 3, I was asked to marry in Crete. So, naturally, I said, “YES!”.

On the sporting front, I experienced the best season opener ever on July 1 in Leverkusen on the date of my aunt’s death. I also became Dutch Champion in the 100m.

All this was possible because I work with the best people and materials, such as Gijs van Gent. Gijs deserves a special mention. Because my blade and other prosthetics feel better than ever before. He also came up with the idea of having Xiborg develop a custom blade for me. Then, Ken Endo (CEO of Xiborg) came to the Netherlands from Japan to personally hand over the blade.

What I am also delighted with is the partnership with Adidas. From the spikes and clothing to the collaboration with the people at Adidas, like Bob, it’s top-notch! The same goes for Toine van Tsuru and the support they offer, what they do for the business community, helping people to be more vital, has inspired me so much that I started training as a Vitalologist.

Fonds Gehandicaptensport should also be appointed. They allowed me to help make sports a matter of course for people with disabilities. Not only as a role model but also in the political field. All these excellent possibilities and opportunities would never have been possible without Bart and Sports Stories. He unburdens me where possible and opens doors that seem closed.

Last but not least, Van Dort Letselschade. Raoul and his people have supported me for years, and support strengthens me. Just like it did in the lawsuit years ago. I can’t think of a more reliable partner!

I look back with pride on 2022 and am looking forward to 2023!

To everyone reading this! Best wishes and all the luck and sportsmanship for 2023!

How I clean, tidy up, and straighten out my messy life

How I clean, tidy up, and straighten out my messy life

This year I cleaned, tidied, and straightened out what it takes to excel for the next two years. This year was not easy for me; nevertheless, this gap year was an excellent time to investigate and implement the necessary repairs. The start of my season felt good, and I started the season with the level I had in Tokyo. The moment I heard the times, I shed a tear; it was also the date of my aunt’s death.

Unfortunately, my times slowed down a bit after that, whether this was because the hot work wasn’t quite finished or because the pressure was lowering, I can’t tell you. But the endless series of setbacks that the trip to Mexico undoubtedly did not help me. So, if you don’t know what happened, here is a summary.

The plan was to compete in the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Monterrey, Mexico, and shine in the 100 & 200m on July 21 & 22. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Mexico, it became clear that our luggage, including medical luggage, did not reach us. I brought my blade in my carry-on and some other essentials to reduce the chance of problems. But my racing kit and spikes were in the medical baggage, among other things. After all, the airlines would treat that with extra care. Fortunately, Adidas was thoughtful enough to arrange the necessary from their facility in Mexico. The spikes arrived on the day of the first race. But with all the stress and problems caused by my baggage never reaching Mexico by American Airlines and Aer Lingus, I, unfortunately, became ill and could not participate in the event.
My luggage didn’t come home until two months later, in September. This is because most people are good, and people pay attention if team NL is on your suitcase.

Because I’ve been quite ill, it took two weeks after Mexico before I was a bit fit again. From that point on, I could only pick up the more serious training sessions again, and the next challenge arose. This had to be done without my coach because he was on a well-deserved vacation. Because I still had to get back to level, I tested different categories (stiffness) of blades, various lengths, and alignments during the build-up period. Of course, you don’t want to be involved in this in a tournament year. So this had to be done so that it won’t be necessary for the next two busy years. Now that the material is configured and the growth path mapped out, we don’t have to worry about that for the foreseeable future.

When I write this, it feels like nothing went right. Still, I’m very proud of my accomplishments despite setbacks and challenges. My winter was not stable (see blog Camino). My season was broken, and I had a lot to deal with. But my determination has only grown stronger.

I believe in myself and my ambitions.

I have now solved almost everything that needed to be straightforward to go full throttle for the next two years. So now it’s time for three weeks of rest, and on October 3rd, I start my next winter season.

I would like to thank my partners & sponsors for supporting Sports Stories, Adidas, Xiborg, Van Dort Letselschade, Tsuru, Fonds Gehandicaptensport, Hashtagfysio, It Continues, Athletics Union, Vughtse Sportclub Prins Hendrik & Ministry of Health.

Of course my coach Joep Janssen. Most enormous thanks to my fiancé.
Without you, my mission is impossible.
That is to make your limitation your strength through sport.

What I ask myself is the following:
How do you deal with the clutter that builds up over time?

Cleaning it all up is a lot of work, and I’m curious how you do this. You can answer this question in the comments below. I read them all.

The start of the racing season

The start of the racing season

After the Camino I slowly started to build up again from three days to six days of training. In May, just before I left for a training camp in Crete, I was back in the full program. For this reason, we have decided to open the racing season later, on July 1. This is also the date of my aunt’s death and has been a difficult day for the past few years. It doesn’t feel that way anymore.

It feels powerful to open on this very day.

Below you can see where I will be running competitions. Always nice when you can come and watch and encourage. I missed that a lot last year.

I had a good training camp on Crete. It got off to a good start because the rubbish bin was already my best friend. This training camp was special for several reasons. I participated for the first time with RTC Brabant Atletiek led by Joep Janssen. RTC Brabant Atletiek consists of a group of young Brabant athletes who have ambitions to become top athletes. Some win medals at the Dutch Championships and others want to go to the European Championship or even the Olympic Games. There is a nice atmosphere in this group and everyone can be themselves and is very driven. I discovered that I need to train in a group to get better.

Last year Keith Antoine from Great Britain was my head coach and Joep worked with him. Some had an opinion as to whether this was wise. Still, it was something I needed at the time and was curious about his approach. My training sessions were mostly only with Joep. And Joep and I found out that we can handle the adventure alone. In addition, I noticed that remote coaching does not work for me. So I wrapped it up nicely with Keith after Tokyo.

Joep is a young talented trainer at Prins Hendrik in Vught and for him I am his first para-athlete whom he can guide higher to the top. Conversely, this is the first training season for me in which I have found peace and a stable relationship of trust with my coach. I was allowed to look into different cuisines and I also needed that to discover what suits me. But working at such a high level, the bond with your coach is essential. That basis must first be good before you start thinking about the next steps. Sometimes I also clash with Joep and then we don’t always agree. But it has to be, that’s part of it.

The bond between coach and athlete is not always easy going.

My partner also came by in Crete for a midweek to take pictures and see how the training sessions are going.
It turned out that it was a man with a plan. On his birthday he proposed to me. After 7 years of relationship he knew for sure and so did I. The best part is that he did that the moment I could say I love myself.
If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else.

I flew back to the Netherlands with a ring on my finger.
All in all I feel like the happiest woman in the world.

I now feel that I’m in great shape and I’ve never felt so much in the mood for competitions. Except for a few minor aches and pains, I was able to train well and remained intact, partly thanks to Hashtag Physio. There were tough workouts that made me nauseous. Sometimes I still marvel at that. How hard you have to work to get a few tenths off your time. Athletics is arguably one of the toughest sports out there.

I can still remember when I saw the 4x400m team from the Netherlands train in Stellenbosch. It is the combination you must have. The talent but also the will to do the work for it. There just aren’t many of those people. It’s really a tough job. Also keep in mind that some athletes don’t get paid for it and have to work side by side. An amateur football player still has a good salary. More attention should be paid to sports in general in the Netherlands. Media is mainly about football & Formula 1.

While there is so much more inspiration than that.

Once again let the season begin.

I’m curious.