April 22, 2014

Swimming for kids now also about swimming skills, not just safety

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 4:53 pm

Today the national swimming organisation (KNZB) has introduced its own swimming certificate, as they said they would last year. They believe in teaching children the front crawl (aka free style) and the back stroke, as opposed to the breast stroke, which is what children usually learn when they go for their national swimming pool organisation (NPZ) certificate.

The biggest difference between the two organisations is that the latter is all about swimming as a safety measure and the former is all about swimming as a sport. The KNZB claims children were not being taught properly and has developed a system that also helps children obtain their certificates faster, something I’m sure will please many a parent. However, having to choose which certificate is better for your kid will most probably come down to the price tag. A quick tour of the Internet tells me a Dutch swimming certificate costs somewhere between 200 and 1000 euro depending on many factors, like how many weeks a course takes.

If I had to shop for a course and it was just about swimming or safety, I would opt for one that taught swimming as a sport. In Canada, I learnt both how to swim and how to save someone from drowning, and if I remember correctly, it was part of the same course. The idea that Dutch children are taught the breast stroke to swim to safety, but are possibly taught nothing about helping others, even how to properly throw a lifebuoy, makes me uneasy. And I did put those skills to use once when I was about 8 and a smaller child’s floaters clicked off while they were in the deep end of a very slow day at the pool and mommy had popped out for some cigarettes.

(Link:, Photo looking across the nearby Wolderwijd from Harderwijk to Zeewolde, Flevoland, by Sjaak Kempe, some rights reserved)

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April 18, 2014

Startup invents ankle bracelet to avoid sprains

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 1:47 pm

Presented at the YES!Delft Network Event a few days ago, the Delft startup EXO-L has invented an ankle bracelet that stops sprains. It is custom made (even the colours) and contrary to tape or a brace, you can continue to move.

Inventor Marcel Fleuren has ankle problems himself, and tape and braces were not working for him, either. Since he wanted to continue playing football, a sport with a multitude of sprained ankles, he invented an alternative during his studies at the Delft University of Technology.

Using a 3D scanner, the EXO-L is made to measure as it comes off the printer.

Listen the testimonial of a young football player (in Dutch).

Exo-L Testimonial Micha from Exo-L on Vimeo.

(Link:, Photo by Wikimedia user Carolus Ludovicus, some rights reserved)

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April 9, 2014

Eindhoven to premiere innovative swimming device

Filed under: Dutch first,Sports by Orangemaster @ 2:29 pm


The 10th annual Swim Cup Eindhoven, held from 10 to 13 April, will feature the world premiere competition use of the Omega Backstroke Start Device (video in English).

Backstroke swimmers will no longer have to worry about their feet or toes slipping at the start of a race, which has been an issues for ages.

Starting platforms for swimmers are constantly being adapted so that swimmers don’t slip, so I can imagine it’s about time the backstroke crowd got their ‘starting device’ as well.

(Link:, Photo of Olympic pool by diamond geezer, some rights reserved)

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March 23, 2014

Nina Hoekman, draughts champion despite cancer

Filed under: Health,Sports by Branko Collin @ 1:52 pm

draughts-florian-schroiffLast week Nina Hoekman became a record-equalling 11-time Dutch draughts champion.

The former number two of the world had to have all her moves physically performed by an official as 17 cancer tumors in her brain had made it difficult for her to move. The cancer was discovered in 2011 and the then-44-year-old Hoekman (born Nina Jankovskaja in Ukraine) was told she had six months to live. She survived those odds and in 2012 she won the rapid draughts tournament in Lille, France, in between radiation therapy sessions.

Another tumor was discovered last September and Hoekman was told she had two weeks to live. Doctors suggested she stop her treatment. Hoekman told Volkskrant yesterday: “Even if chemotherapy is only one percent effective, if it gives me a spark of hope, then who should deny me that therapy? I got the feeling that the doctors were pushing me to the exit. I had to accept death, that is what they told me. But I am a champion, I have competed for the world title several times, I never give up.”

At one point during the championship in Zoutelande, Zeeland, Hoekman got nauseous and dizzy, which cost her a point. In the final round against real estate agent Jacqueline Schouten she needed to score a point more than the number two of the competition, Vitalia Doumesh. The latter drew and Schouten lost, earning Hoekman an eleventh Dutch title. With that title she equalled the record of Karen van Lith.

(Photo by Florian Schroiff, some rights reserved)

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February 17, 2014

Jorien ter Mors, a tale of two tracks

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 2:20 pm

jorien-ter-mors-emiel-ketelaarYesterday a trio of Dutch skaters swept the podium at the 2014 Winter Olympics. They were the third trio of Dutch skaters to do so these Olympic Games.

The 17 medals won by the Dutch team, including 5 gold ones, has led to a sense of euphoria among the press. Hosts of the evening talk show by public broadcaster NOS, Studio Sportwinter, started speculating on air how many more medals ‘we’ would rake in during the rest of the games. Of the 17 medals, 16 were won in long track speed skating.

What makes these numbers even more interesting is that yesterday’s 1500 metre long track speed skating winner Jorien ter Horst comes from another discipline, short track speed skating. She said after the race that she would trade in her gold for “success in a short track event”.

Ter Horst’s statement, echoed by her coach Jeroen Otter, caused friction in the long track camp. Gerard Kemkers called the statements “incomprehensible”. Rintje Ritsma said Otter “must be a bit loopy”. Gianni Romme thought Ter Mors was being irresponsible: “how painful must her statement be for Koen Verweij?” Verweij is a skater who missed a first place by 0.003 seconds last week.

Ter Horst was asked to explain herself in Studio Sportwinter, where she said: “I’ve been competing in short track for ten years, that is the discipline I’ve put all my passion and effort into. Long track has only been part of my life for the past two years.”

The comments of former medallists Kemkers, Ritsma and Romme reflect the Dutch sense of long track speed skating owning the Olympics. Dutch competitors in other disciplines are viewed as odd-ball outsiders. When one of these outsiders participates in the only ‘real’ discipline, they should apparently do so while showing the proper deference. Perhaps the long track skaters should wonder how it is that somebody who considers their discipline somewhat of a distraction is still able to beat all the other competitors at their own game.

In the meantime Ter Mors has gone into damage control mode. She toned down her message on Twitter: “Olympic gold, a remarkable feeling. I would not trade it for anything in the world.” (She used a clever ironic pun that I don’t know how to translate into English. She said “[ik] zou hem voor geen goud willen missen”, which literally means “[I] would not trade it for gold.”)

(Photo by Emiel Ketelaar, some rights reserved)

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October 28, 2013

Runner’s chip took away the need to cheat

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 3:31 pm

On Sunday 17 November the 30th edition of the Seven Hills Run in Nijmegen will be held.

About 20 years ago I was a volunteer for the event and I had to guard one of the four starting cages, which taught me a thing or two about human nature.

The Seven Hills Run was and is an immensely popular race along 15 kilometres of undulating roads in and near Nijmegen. Both the global running elite and recreational runners take part. To ensure that the latter would not rob the former of fast finishes—the outdoor world records for 15 kilometre runs have been set at the Seven Hills course for both men and women—the runners were divided into four cages before the start, with the fastest group in the first and the slowest in the last.

At the start of the race, the cages would be opened back and front. The inevitable result was that the slower runners would not pass the starting line until minutes after the start, so that their official time would be composed of their running time and then some. My job at cage three was to make sure that only the people with the right starting number were allowed in and to redirect the others to their cage.

I received threats of violence that day and at one point a runner was so livid that he blocked the entrance to the cage and refused to go away. Thirty runners (my personal count) were sure that the faster cage was their rightful place. I got to redirect exactly one runner to a faster cage—I assumed that she was genuinely mistaken.

Around that time a company was founded by several students of the local university that produced an RFID transponder, the ChampionChip, that would make skewed race times a thing of the past. A computer would register the runners both when they passed the starting line and when they passed the finish line, and immediately spit out the right times. During the 25th anniversary of the race, the organisers even used the ChampionChip transponder (now owned by MYLAPS from Haarlem) to honour the 250,000th runner right after her finish.

I imagine that getting one’s exact time took some of the edge off the aggression and the need to cheat of some runners.

(Photo by Peter van der Sluijs, some rights reserved)

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October 12, 2013

Van Persie new all-time top scorer with 41 goals

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 3:16 pm

By scoring a hat trick yesterday in a match against Hungary, Robin van Persie became the all-time top scorer of the Dutch national football team. His total is now 41 goals in 80 matches, Dutchnews reports.

The previous record holder was Patrick Kluivert who, being one of the assistant coaches of the Oranje yesterday, congratulated Van Persie after the second goal. Kluivert is now in second place with 40 goals in 79 matches. Two years ago AD still considered Klaas-Jan Huntelaar the most likely pretender to the crown. Van Persie had been a failure at the 2010 world championships in South Africa and in 2011 Huntelaar led the man from Rotterdam with 3 goals in the rankings. Huntelaar hasn’t played much since then whilst Van Persie racked up an impressive 8 goals in the 2014 world cup qualifiers

Both players were born in August 1983 and still have time to work on their personal bests. Huntelaar is now the one who faces the uphill battle though. Dennis Bergkamp was the record holder between 1998 (he took it in typical Bergkamp fashion with a quality goal) and 2003. Up to 1998 Faas Wilkes topped the list for an amazing 38 years and 243 days, reports.

Hungary had to win the game to still have a shot at qualifying. The Netherlands were already through—coach Louis van Gaal used the match to experiment, fielding Vlaar and Bruma as central defenders . The Netherlands won the home game 8-1.

(Photo by Ronnie Macdonald, some rights reserved)

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September 27, 2013

Mike Dalhuisen debuts with the New York Islanders

Filed under: Dutch first,Sports by Orangemaster @ 9:36 am

In the Netherlands when anyone says ‘hockey’ they mean ‘field hockey’ and when I say ‘hockey’ I mean the burly guys on the ice like Dutch defender Mike Dalhuisen. Dalhuisen played his first professional game last week with the New York Islanders (often subtitled as ‘Highlanders’ on Dutch telly — please stop doing that) in an exhibition game against the New Jersey Devils.

Dalhuisen started his career when he emigrated to Ontario, Canada and played at junior level with the Lindsay Muskies, then with Chicago Steel and Lincoln Stars (United States Hockey League) and eventually at Quinnipiac in Connecticut for four years at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level. Now playing for the New York Islanders makes Dalhuisen the first-ever Dutchman to play for the NHL, (National Hockey League), which includes Canadian teams as well despite its name.

“For me field hockey was never an option; it’s not physical enough”, says Dalhuisen this week in a Spits newspaper interview. Here’s what he sounds like in a quick locker room interview: he sounds like a real North American.

Besides the fact that Dalhuisen is a rising star from a country that understands baseball way better than hockey, he’s gone viral for having a gloves off fist fight with the Devils’ Ryan Carter, despite a 5-3 win for the Islanders. The defender spent 11 minutes on ice and five in the penalty box.

(Links:,, Photo of hockey sticks by kicksave2930, some rights reserved)


September 4, 2013

Swimming for kids: sport or safety measure? Or both?

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 10:47 am

Swimming organisations in the Netherlands are arguing about which stroke should be taught first to children. The organisation responsible for teaching children, the national swimming pool organisation, is a fan of the breast stroke because it can be sustained for longer and is easier to learn. The national swimming organisation is all for the front crawl and the back stroke and plans to introduce their own swimming certificates for children next year. The national swimming pool organisation is not happy about having some competition.

Why are they at odds? The swimming pool peeps believe in teaching children in the event that they fall into a canal, while the national swimming peeps see swimming as a sport. The chances of a child falling into a body of water and having to swim ashore for a long time are not very likely and so the breast stroke make sense. However, if a child wants to learn how to swim as a real skill, then the front crawl is usually a good primer.

As a well-versed swimmer (my butterfly stroke sucks), I can tell you that besides the strokes, staying afloat by treading water or floating on your back is very important for safety. As a child I also learnt how to give mouth to mouth and rescue someone while in the water, skills that people regularly use when you’re a Canadian on a lake in a canoe in the forest in a pre-mobile phone era, not a small child falling into a canal.

Why can’t these organisations coordinate their efforts? Then kids will learn how to excel at swimming and what to do if they or a friend falls into a canal. Only being able to save yourself doesn’t sound very noble.

(Link:, Photo looking across the nearby Wolderwijd from Harderwijk to Zeewolde, Flevoland, by Sjaak Kempe, some rights reserved)

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August 6, 2013

Netherlands net exporter of football players

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 8:33 am

This year Dutch football clubs are getting at least 91 million euro for breaking up contracts with players who are set to move to foreign clubs, Volkskrant reports. That number is likely to become even higher since the 2013 summer transfer window doesn’t close until 2 September.

Midfielder Kevin Strootman from PSV (Eindhoven) earned his club the most money. He will move to AS Roma for 20 million euro. Volkskrant points out that the Dutch competition, the Eredivisie, has been drained of attackers. Out of the players that are leaving, five were in the top ten of top scorers last season. PSV had Dries Mertens and Jeremain Lens in that list—the Belgian and Dutchman are going to Napoli and Dinamo Kiev respectively. Ivorian Wilfried Bony of Vitesse (Arnhem) was widely considered too big for the Dutch top competition—his move to English mid-table Swansea seems a bit unambitious.

The budgets of Dutch clubs typically do not extend far enough to retain top players. In the previous season, the ‘poorest’ English club, Queens Park Rangers, had 35 million British pounds to spend on player wages alone. By contrast, Feyenoord, the Dutch number four in spending, has a budget of 34 million euro for the current season—including but not limited to wages. It will come as no surprise that in Volkskrant’s list, England is the top importer in Europe of foreign players, having spent 316 million euro so far. Oddly enough, Spain, a country whose clubs are not exactly poor, beats the Netherlands as an exporter of football players. Its clubs earned 106 million euro at the time of writing.

See also: How to create a football star

(Photo of striker Wilfried Bony by Wikimedia user Ailura, some rights reserved)

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