Dutch baseball players are confident that they will secure an Olympic ticket this week at the Olympic Qualifier (OKT) in Italy. The brand new European champion starts the tournament on Wednesday against the Czech Republic.
The Orange also faces Israel, Spain, South Africa and Italy and only the winner of the tournament qualifies for next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
"We have a good combination of experience and young talent in the group. I really think we can grab gold in Tokyo. But first we have to show it this week," says pitcher Diegomar Markwell, who witnessed the 2004 and 2008 Games .
"We won a party after winning the European title on Sunday evening. But then the attention quickly went to the OKT, because that is the most important tournament."
With the semi-finals at the European Championship, the Netherlands was already certain of participating in the OKT. "But we continued on the same footing, because winning the European Championship also gives me a good feeling. We are taking this to this tournament. We want to show that we are the boss of Europe," says Markwell.
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"Can just take Olympic gold"
At the OKT the number one goes to the Games and the number two gets a second chance at a second OKT. 39-year-old Markwell, who, like Rob Cordemans (44), went through several Games, wants to succeed at all costs in the Olympic mission.
"I have played a lot of big tournaments, but the Games are very special. You come across all those stars from other sports, such as Ronaldinho, Serena Williams and Usain Bolt. Those are great memories. In 2008 it was my birthday day of the opening ceremony, that also always stays with me. "
The pitcher thinks the Netherlands can reach very far at the Games in Tokyo. "The Japanese are crazy about baseball. They know all the players there, whether you play in the Major League or not. If we make it, we can just grab gold there."
The Netherlands lost the opening match of the Czech Republic at the European Championship and is therefore looking for revenge at the OKT. The countries are facing each other at 1.30 pm on Wednesday.
See also: These Dutch athletes are sure of the Tokyo Olympic Games