Second best Dutch Olympic haul 'disappoints'
30 August 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Having enjoyed great success at the Sydney Olympics, Dutch athletes collected a "disappointing" 22 medals — four gold, nine silver and nine bronze — at the Athens Games, falling from eighth in 2000 to 17th in the overall medal tally this time round.
30 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — Having enjoyed great success at the Sydney Olympics, Dutch athletes collected a "disappointing" 22 medals — four gold, nine silver and nine bronze — at the Athens Games, falling from eighth in 2000 to 17th in the overall medal tally this time round.
News agency ANP characterised the 2004 Athens Games as a story of "not quite". It said the Sydney Olympics was a story of gold, while Athens was silver. But it also conceded that expectation of a repeat golden Sydney effort was always a "utopia".
The Netherlands can still be proud of its achievements. Its team of 216 athletes finished with a haul of 22 medals — the nation's second best effort of all time, trailing the Sydney haul.
The Netherlands was simply "spoiled" four years ago, when its athletes won 25 medals in Sydney — 12 gold, nine silver and four bronze. Athens lacked the same golden tinge this time.
Despite the less successful effort in 2004, Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and an International Olympic Committee member said the Athens Games were the best ever. "I've had a fantastic time," he said.
And star swimmers Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband again produced gold medal performances, taking out the 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle events respectively.
Cyclist Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel courageously won gold in the time trial — having fallen in the road race — and rider Anky van Grunsven shed tears after she won the individual dressage gold on her new horse Salinero.
The 28th Games officially ended on 29 August as the Olympic flame was extinguished. Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will now honour the Dutch medal winners on Wednesday, the website of the Dutch sports federation NCO-NSF said.
The Queen will officially welcome the successful athletes in a special ceremony at Paleis Noordeinde in The Hague and the prime minister will deliver a speech during a gathering in the Ridderzaal.
The athletes will then participate in a ticker tape parade through the streets of The Hague, the Government Information Service RVD said.
The NOC-NSF now has the task of working to push the nation's gold medal tally higher again at the Beijing 2008 Games. The sports federation also wants to increase the overall tally and the measuring stick will remain Sydney's haul.
Outgoing NOC-NSF technical director Joop Alberda said there is still talent in the Netherlands, but is not confident these athletes will be as good as the "super athletes" of Sydney and Athens.
NOC-NSF chairwoman Erica Terpstra has already indicated the nature of the task that lies ahead for the Netherlands. She claims the nation needs to work toward a cultural change in regards the organisation, participation and variety of sports that are played in the Netherlands.
She said primary and secondary schools must work harder at sport and physical activities, a statement that came after the sports federation launched a campaign earlier this year to encourage more people to become involved in sport.
She also said the Athens Games were the "most surprising games ever". The organisation was particularly good, despite earlier concerns about the preparedness of the Greeks to host the event.
And according to the Dutch, the transport, stadiums and Olympic village were equal to or even better than the facilities provided four years ago in Sydney.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news