© Stephan Tellier
In the Netherlands it’s very normal to start ice skating on small canals in the winter, when they’re all frozen, and I think that’s when every Dutch person falls in love with ice skating. I started skating for fun, in winter, on the water behind my parents farm, but I never expected to become this good and go to the Olympics.
I always enjoyed skating with friends. It was about fun, and as the years went by it got more serious for me.
I’m passionate about speed skating because the gaps between competitors are so small and there are so many things you can improve to get faster and beat them. You get very passionate about working on all the things to get faster. Your skates have to be perfect, and you have to keep improving your body.
Holland has a big tradition of speed skating, but my goal is not to win Olympic gold because the Dutch are good at it, it’s more because I enjoy speed skating and I’ve done it since I was a small child and that’s the only reason I want to be the best at it. Being a Team Samsung Galaxy athlete for Beijing 2022, where I will compete for the Netherlands, will also be something very special for me as it’s an impressive team to be part of.
My passion outside speed skating is to go back to my parents’ farm and work there and forget about skating and empty my mind for a bit.
The farm is where I grew up and it’s always been a safe space for me. The skating world is a very buzzy world and you’re always buzzing with training or people around. When I go home and can work on the farm, to sometimes be alone and do something else, I think it’s good for the mind to reset and I can then get back to speed skating with the right mindset.
On the farm we have dairy cows and my dad works there full time. I can work with the cows, or just sit on the tractor all day, it really doesn’t matter to me, I just like to help.
An Olympic medal wouldn’t really change anything for me working on the farm. Maybe it would make things a little bit easier, but it’s difficult to say. After the Olympics I’ll definitely be happy to go back because that’s what I enjoy.
I think being able to go to the farm helps me with my sport mentally, because I do something different, and have a weekend off, and that’s quite nice for me.
Growing up I’ve always seen my parents work very hard to keep the farm going and I learned to work hard, not only on the farm, but at skating. I want to give everything, and I think what I picked up from them and the farm helps me to be a better speed skater.