Time for an update

My last report dates from more than two months ago when we returned with a bronze medal from the European Championships in Kazan. After the short-lived euphoria it is of course soon “business as usual” again. Finally Samantha and myself have only one thing in mind and that is to come back as soon as possible in the top 25 of the world ranking. The training led by Kim Nielsen is heavy but very inspiring. Especially tactically and mentally he knows how to make the difference.

Having the prospect of the World Championships in Denmark there is still much to do, including the safeguarding of the points that we achieved last year, before Samantha’s injury, at the Spanish Open, the Canada Open and the U.S. Open.

On May 21, we fly to Madrid for the Spanish Open. Fortunately, it is not too hot and the conditions are fine. We reach the semi-finals but here we must acknowledge the superiority of the first seeded pair Blair and Bankier. Eventually this pair also wins the tournament. All in all, we are not unhappy. As we don’t have to play the final we have the opportunity to explore the city of Madrid. It sure is a beautiful city with its Plaza’s and mercado’s. While walking around, you can taste the football atmosphere around the Champions League final between Real and AtlĂ©tico which was played the previous night in Lisbon. We do not know yet that a few weeks later the Dutch soccer team will beat Spain by 5-1 in the first group match of the World Cup.

In the following month, everything is focused on the preparation of our North American tour that, unlike last year, starts in Vancouver this time and ends in New York. We are happy that Rune Massing will accompany us as coach. Even though we are only with 4 players, it’s still very nice to have a coach around that will help you in analyzing your opponents and preparing your matches.

On June 27, we fly with KLM to Vancouver. A smooth flight, on time and good care. After arrival we are picked up and brought to the place where we will stay. This time the event takes place within the huge campus of the University of British Columbia and we stay on campus. I have a small dorm room on the 14th floor with stunning views over the bay of Vancouver. The Rocky Mountains on the other side are partially hidden behind the clouds, but later in the week, with a clear sky they are wonderful to see. We took plenty of time to get used to the big time difference of 9 hours. This time I don’t really succeed to get used to it and when I start with the tournament I am not really rested.

The hall where we play is not pleasant. The mats are put directly on the concrete floor of this ice hockey stadium. Risk of injuries is obvious but despite protests from many players and team managers nothing is changed. We are first seeded and have to live up to that. Via a Canadian and two Korean pairs we reach the final. There we meet Max Schwenger and Carla Nelte second seeded. For my part it is not a good match and we lose, unnecessarily, with 18-21 and 21-23.

Sunday morning at 04:00 we are brought to the airport. We have a long journey to New York ahead of us with a 5 hour intermediate stop at Minneapolis. When at 06:55 our flight is ready to leave, one finds out that an EXIT sign is gone. Without that sign they cannot fly, so we disembark and wait what will happen. One and a half hour later we are told that we have been rebooked via Seattle. That trip goes smoothly and eventually we arrive one hour later in New York than our original flight plan. With a rental car and with Iris as navigator we drive in the dark to our hotel on Long Island. The sports center where we play is huge and the hall is well equipped but quite draughty, like most larger arenas. We have a few days to train and prepare us for the tournament.

The first matches are won by us, but in the quarter-finals, we come to face a Chinese Taipei pair. The first game we win by 19, but then they teach us who are the better ones. With this result we have to live. Not really a satisfactory end, because again I feel that we have not reached our level again.

As we fly back on Sunday we have Saturday to visit the Big Apple. It’s a wonderful relaxing day visiting a number of famous sights. We start at Ground Zero which is very impressive. From there we walk to the Brooklyn Bridge. Then we take the subway to Wall Street, recognizable from movies and television, walk again to Broadway, Central Park and we end the day at Times Square where we have dinner. In the evening this giant plaza is fantastically lighted and it leaves a special impression on me. At Penn Station near Madison Square Garden we take the subway back to the train station. After 14 hours of great New York impressions it’s time to pack our bags again in the hotel.

On Sunday we have the first KLM flight back to the Netherlands and after a 7 hours flight we arrive again at Schiphol Airport. It’s good to be home again. This week we have started with a 6 week preparation for the World Championships in Denmark. For the latest updates you can follow me on Twitter.com/Jorritderuiter

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