In the last week before the Olympic Games, NU.nl daily publishes an extensive interview with a Dutch Olympian.

In episode two windsurfer Kiran Badloe (26), who had to beat his good friend and two-time Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe to get to Tokyo and is now title favorite himself.

"You used to windsurf because you wanted to be cool in your flip-flops."

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The interview in the National Top Sailing Center in The Hague has just started when Lilian de Geus walks by with a smile.

The three-time windsurfing world champion had folded the mirrors of Badloe's car earlier that week, moved all the stuff in the trunk to the front seat and pushed the driver's seat all the way forward.

"I saw my car and thought: you are a crook", Badloe says with a smile to De Geus.

"I was cleaning up for at least ten minutes before I could drive away."

Does this joke fit in with the relaxed atmosphere surrounding windsurfing?

Badloe: "It's great, we can taunt each other a bit. We consciously create a setting here that it's fun for a long time, but that someone keeps a close eye on that we are doing what we have to do. Physically we deliver the same performance in this way, but mentally it becomes a lot easier in training."

Windsurfing is physically very demanding, but still has the image of a lifestyle rather than a sport.

"Maybe it comes from the old days, when you did windsurfing because you wanted to wear a swimming trunks and a tank top and wanted to be cool in your flip-flops. Well, I have to say that we also think it's really cool to maintain that image ."

"If you also know what goes on behind the scenes; the hard training sessions, the puke in the gym. Like all Olympic athletes we work very hard, but this is the environment in which I perform best: when I to my liking, can be nice and casual and have no worries."

Have you had to discover that that suits you best?

"I was lucky enough to be able to join Dorian when I was eighteen. We could have organized a strict regime of only sleeping and working, but noticed that we could get a lot more out of it if we also had a lot of fun. I have that taken over from Dorian and now that he's gone, we're pushing through."

Roll of Honor Kiran Badloe

  • World Cup: 3 golds (2019, 2020, 2021), 1 silver (2018), 1 bronze (2016)

  • European Championship: 2 golds (2019, 2021), 1 bronze (2020)

Kiran Badloe has been the top favorite for Olympic gold since 2019 due to his results.

Kiran Badloe has been the top favorite for Olympic gold since 2019 due to his results.

Photo: Getty Images

'Our friendship was worth more to us than being the man for one year'

Dorian is Dorian van Rijsselberghe, the only man in the world with two Olympic titles in windsurfing.

The now 32-year-old Texel rider won gold in the RS:X class in 2012 in London and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, but will not defend his title in Tokyo.

The Netherlands can only send one male windsurfer to the Games and Badloe won the qualification battle of his friend and training partner by becoming world champion in 2019 and 2020.

After the decisive World Cup of one and a half years ago, Van Rijsselberghe put an end to his career.

Do you still have a lot of contact with Van Rijsselberghe?

Badloe: "It's funny: when we were training partners, we really did everything together when we were sailing. But once at home, we had no contact at all. Until we asked each other what time we would be at the airport and then we went again."

"That was fine, until corona came by last year, Dorian stopped and we were both at home. Only after three months did we pick up the phone and say to each other: 'Guy, we should call every now and then, because we are going to meet each other. for the time being no more.'

We now talk to each other every day, or at least every few days."

Kiran Badloe (left) and Dorian van Rijsselberghe (right) after the 2018 World Cup, where they won silver and gold respectively.

Kiran Badloe (left) and Dorian van Rijsselberghe (right) after the 2018 World Cup, where they won silver and gold respectively.

Photo: Getty Images

You have become very good friends.

Did that click right away when you started training with Van Rijsselberghe in 2013?

"Yes, although in the beginning we had a very different relationship than now. Dorian is six years older than me and was already an Olympic champion, while I had just come to watch. That made a big impression on me. But I noticed It was already right that we had the same humor and got along well. It was also super nice on the water, because the level in our training sessions was so high that we pushed each other to get better and better."

Was there a moment when you first thought: I can beat Van Rijsselberghe?

"Around the Rio Games there came a moment when I noticed that I was constantly going faster than him in the training sessions, but at that moment I still gave Dorian too much respect. Sitting behind Dorian was fine, because Dorian is just really good. When I realized I had to pass him to make it to the Games, it clicked and I've won every game since then."

“It was only when I realized that I had to pass Dorian to make it to the Games that a switch clicked.

And since then I've actually won every game.”

Kiran Badloe

Certainly in recent years you were about as good and you competed against each other for the first place.

You often see that such a rivalry leads to hatred and envy.

That never happened to you?

"I think we were really lucky to start working together way before we had a rivalry. First our friendship started and only after that came: shit, we're equally good, we have to compete for one Olympic ticket, now what? And we were both raised that way and sober enough to say that that friendship is worth so much more in the long run than we were going to be mean to each other and maybe be the man for one year."

That's a very rational thought, but it doesn't always work that way in sports.

You struggled for a long time against a world title by Van Rijsselberghe.

He got in the way of your Olympic debut in 2016.

Isn't it very human to blame someone for that?

"Yes, but luckily we were always at different stages in our careers. In 2016 I was young enough to think there were still plenty of opportunities to come. And now for Tokyo it was perhaps the best situation for everyone's state of mind that I put myself Dorian had already had a fantastic career with two Olympic golds, these Games had been a bonus for him. For me it was really now or never."

"In the end we could always both be at peace with it. Last year we also celebrated together in the bar of our Australian hotel that I was allowed to go to the Games. And that we have been so dominant for years."

Kiran Badloe could become the last Olympic champion in the RS:X class.

From the 2024 Games in Paris, the windsurfers will start foiling.

Kiran Badloe could become the last Olympic champion in the RS:X class.

From the 2024 Games in Paris, the windsurfers will start foiling.

Photo: Getty Images

'Bonaire was paradise on earth for me'

It is by no means self-evident that two men from the Netherlands have divided the big prizes in windsurfing over the past decade.

After all, it is a small sport here, and in winter it is much too cold to stand on a board on the water.

“I also had no idea what windsurfing was,” Badloe says.

"Until I was on a shelf on Bonaire for the first time when I was nine."

Would we have been sitting here now if you hadn't lived on Bonaire from the age of six to ten?

"No. Windsurfing is also not part of my parents' culture or family. My father is a football fanatic, so without those years on Bonaire I would probably have played football in a team of friends and participated in the third half on Saturdays."

You told the

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that you never went back to Bonaire, for fear that your ideal image of the island is no longer correct.

"You have to imagine that I walked around there with the head of a child. Everything was big, beautiful and perfect, it was paradise on earth for me. I'm afraid that if I go back, that ideal picture will disappear forever. just a lot of value to that period."

“Windsurfing is not 100 meters of athletics.

There are an awful lot of variables.”

Kiran Badloe

Very prominently on your own site: "As a child I dreamed of one day becoming the best windsurfer in the world."

Did that already start on Bonaire?

"No, that was when I was thirteen and we were already back in the Netherlands. At a World Youth Championship in Poland I won more races than the world champion and the dream started."

And now you are a three-time world champion and the all-time favorite for the Olympic title in Tokyo.

"I am indeed labeled as the top favorite and I don't mind that. But I always try to explain that there are a lot of variables in windsurfing that I have to try to control, which also means a lot can go wrong. is not 100 meters of athletics, which is always one constant thing."

"In addition, the postponement of the Games has given all my competitors an extra year to get closer and they certainly succeeded. There are now a few guys who have become retarded good."

Do you feel some kind of obligation to extend the 'Dutch' title, to become the successor of Van Rijsselberghe?

"I really want to become an Olympic champion. But I don't feel the pressure that I have to get gold because Dorian was the best in Rio and I beat him in the qualifying stage for Tokyo."

"Because of that intense battle with Dorian, and because only one man per country is allowed to participate in Tokyo, I really feel that the Dutch hope for windsurfing lies with me. But I think that is just a very cool feeling. I don't sail more with Kiran Badloe in my sail, I sail for the Netherlands. And I'm really looking forward to that."

This was episode two in an interview series with Dutch Olympians.

Monday we started with cyclist Anna van der Breggen and later this week swimmer Thom de Boer

handball player Lois Abbingh

and BMX players Laura and Merel Smulders will follow.

See also: Van der Breggen: 'If cycling were really everything for me, I wouldn't stop'

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