Mark Huizinga looks around in astonishment. Or better: higher.
He is only 22 years old, and in Atlanta he not only faces his first Olympics, it is also the first tournament that is surrounded by not only judo players. “I was standing among the volleyball players, tall and skinny men. I thought: There can’t be as much strength in a body like this, right? I even saw them play …” Huizinga doesn’t have to dig deeply into his memories of Summer of Sports. 1996. “Games are magical to me. When I was young, I read books on history, even about the 1896 games. I knew a lot about them and watched all the sports.
Then you suddenly find yourself there. ”His coach Chris de Corte knows how to prepare his student.
“It protected me from the Olympic Circus as much as possible. We explored the Olympic Village on a bicycle, until we felt at home there. Moreover, it was training, eating and sleeping.
I also did not go to the opening ceremony or other sports. Fortunately, I really started playing on the third day, until that moment the day of the match dominated everything. “
Huizinga did not fly to America with the Olympic idea. Let’s go back to a few months before the Games, to the European Championships in The Hague. “In the year 2000 I won the gold medal in the games, and this is still the most important for me, but the European Championship comes in second. There is really a step to the world summit. I already won bronze in one of the European championships, and sometimes I won against real champions, but In judo it’s all about the European Championships, World Championships and the Olympics. In 1996, I became the European champion for the first time, with many friends, family and club members in the stands. However, the crowd went crazy when the Dutchman came on the carpet, and I won every match with an ebon. Which gave additional comfort to the room. “
So yeah, Huizinga is what to expect in Atlanta. But the draw couldn’t get any worse. There is still no question about the placement system, as in tennis.
The European champion is linked in his opening match with South Korean world champion Jeon Ki-young. “He only lost one game in three years, but that was mine.” Huizinga cannot repeat this trick now. The battle ends in a draw. When judging continues after 25 years of extension, the jury members will now designate the winner. They go to South Korea, because he took the initiative a little more. A decision that Huizinga could coexist with. He must now hope that Jeon Ki Young will reach the semi-finals, and then Huizinga can continue the tournament, with the maximum amount of bronze. “That wasn’t a problem, because he was already much stronger than the rest.”
Huizinga confirmed his position in the following four matches, which he won all via ippon. This is how it is best done. Like some kind of FC Barcelona, or a boxer looking for a knockout, Huizinga strives to attack, chasing an ippon. Perfect for the judo player that he is, he put his opponent on his back in Game Four in five seconds.
“I was always looking for the hole to launch an attack. You have very good Goddock players on one side, but I wanted to differ. Left right. Surprise my opponent. This also makes training more fun. If I did the same thing year after year, I would lose the fun and never do it.” Until I’m 35 years old. ”Huizinga also decides to take a bronze medal through an Ebonne, grabbing his fist and leaping into the air. With his medal around his neck, he shouted into the camera, “It’s like gold!”
Huizinga wins the following four matches. Like a boxer looking for a knockout, seeking an attack, and chasing an Ebon
That’s not what it looks like, it literally means it. “They polished it very beautifully, the medal was totally shiny. I was happy with it, but even before I hit the ground, I thought: Don’t rejoice too much, because it’s not gold. I want to take two steps higher in four years.”
When match day ends, Huizinga has another week and a half to enjoy the games.