The Dutch judokas will have a last chance at this week's European Championships to prove themselves before the selection committee chooses who can go to the Olympic Games.

NU.nl looks ahead with the main characters, with Wednesday part 1: Kim Polling and Sanne van Dijke in the category up to 70 kilograms.

"The one who is not chosen will prance anyway."

Good to know

  • The Netherlands may only send one judoka per weight class to the Olympic Games.

  • If two or more judokas in the same class meet the qualification criteria, the selection committee will make a decision.

  • The European Championships in Lisbon (April 16-18) is the last Olympic measurement moment after a three-year cycle.

  • Five Dutch judokas are already certain of Olympic participation: Juul Franssen, Noël van 't End, Tornike Tsjakadoea, Frank de Wit and Michael Korrel.

The decision of the selection committee cannot come quickly enough for Van Dijke.

The 2017 European champion is not only confronted by the media - "I have already received ten questions about Kim at this press moment" - but also by people in her environment each time with that one question: can you go to Tokyo?

"It's about it all the time," says Van Dijke.

"I've already told my parents not to text me again if there is anything about Kim or me in the newspaper. I understand it's an interesting storyline, but I'm getting tired of it. My main goal is to achieve that. the Games and be the best there, not beat Kim. "

Years ago, few people had wondered who could go to Tokyo in this class, but the gap between 25-year-old Van Dijke and 30-year-old Polling is no longer as big as it was.

They hardly differ from each other in the world rankings and even Polling acknowledges that its competitor has taken steps in recent years.

Yet the surprise can be read on her face when the current number three in the world is confronted with the possibility that Van Dijke, the global number five, will be preferred.

"I could not name one reason why Sanne should go to the Games", Polling is clear.

"I think I have taken more qualifying points in one year than Sanne in two. There has not been a single tournament where she has won from more than one world top and therefore she has never shown that she can cope with the pressure. just really not exciting. "

Kim Polling, here in action at the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv earlier this year, thinks she's sure of an Olympic ticket.

Kim Polling, here in action at the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv earlier this year, thinks she's sure of an Olympic ticket.

Photo: Pro Shots

'Kim's line does not rise as fast as mine'

Polling, who missed the first year of the qualifying process due to a hernia, recently reinforced her words by winning the Grand Slam in Antalya.

The tournament was not an Olympic measuring moment, but it did show that it was approaching its old top form after another long period without matches.

"Since the 2016 Olympics, it is the third time that I have not had to return judo after a year. I am certainly not top yet, but I think that applies to all world top players. Even the French, who have many training partners, are still not at their pre-corona level. The Olympics will be very unpredictable, "Polling said.

It was the second time in a year and a half for the four-time European champion that she won a Grand Slam.

In December 2019, Polling also took gold at the prestigious Masters by beating Van Dijke in the final.

Her competitor has only won a Grand Prix in China since the start of the qualifying process.

"But I think I'm the better of the two of us now," says Van Dijke.

"I can only see myself getting better and Kim's line rising less fast. In Tokyo that gap will only get bigger, so I think I am the right choice to send to the Olympics. It's still close and that's why I think the European Championship is going to be important. "

Sanne van Dijke thinks she has a better chance in Tokyo than Kim Polling.

Sanne van Dijke thinks she has a better chance in Tokyo than Kim Polling.

Photo: ANP

'It's not that I begrudge Kim, but I think I'm more promising'

Normally, in the run-up to a European Championship, it is about how many titles the Dutch team wants to take, but this time the European title tournament is overshadowed by the battle for the Olympic tickets.

About a week after the European Championship in Lisbon, the selection committee will make a judgment.

"I can already give you a note: if I can go to Tokyo, Kim will prance and the other way around is exactly the same. It's not that I begrudge Kim or that I think she doesn't deserve to be at the Games. But if it is a matter of 'me or you', then I think I have a better chance, "said Van Dijke.

While Van Dijke hopes to convince the selection committee at the European Championship, Polling is not worried about the Olympic ticket.

The Groningen player already participated in the Games in 2016 and was then eliminated in the first round, so she is looking for revenge next summer in Tokyo.

"I would love to conquer that fifth European title now. Sanne has become better. But if she becomes European champion by beating two world toppers, that would be the first time."

Part 2 will be published on Thursday, about the battle between Guusje Steenhuis and Marhinde Verkerk in the category up to 78 kilograms.

Friday, at the start of the European Championship, part 3 follows, with the battle between Henk Grol and Roy Meyer in the category from 100 kilograms.