On September 10, 2017, Renske Boxchem’s Olympic water polo dream will begin from Lelystad. Participating in an Olympic water polo tournament with TeamNL Women in 2028 (Los Angeles, United States) or 2032 (Brisbane, Australia) is a dream come true.
We talk to Renske at the swimming pool, where he built his first swim meter at Z.&P.C. Hootrip in Lelystad. The love for swimming starts early. After her ABCs, she takes up synchronized swimming under the tutelage of her aunt, Lisanne Boxchem, which has done her no harm to date. Here, Renske learns the techniques needed to swim, stand tall, and especially (high) jump. In addition to synchronized swimming, Renske begins with competitive swimming and water polo. Water polo in particular is a lot of fun and Renske really wants to play goalkeeper, but his parents don’t think it’s a good idea because they play with younger and older boys.
In addition to regular training sessions for water polo, Renske, despite his young age, is allowed to participate in regional training sessions for synchronized swimming and water polo. At regional training sessions for water polo, Renske is coached by former Olympian and women’s selection coach Alice Lindhout. So it was Lindhout who targeted Renske, regardless of the parents’ previous objections. Things went fast from that point on, Renske says. ‘Young Orange had to train hard not to lose weight for the exam. I was too young and I didn’t want to disappoint the coach. I was finally allowed to keep it and now I had to show it off.
Success comes after a season of hard training, immediately followed by disappointment. Because, as is well known, you have to learn how to lose before you can win.
Renske reaches the required limits in synchronized swimming to participate in the NJK in Eindhoven, which is not his first Games. Within two weeks, at Renske’s insistence, an invitation came for the selection training sessions of the Dutch youth water polo team in Zeist. Renske was 11 years old at the time, in Group 8 and several sports had injured his shoulder. The pleasure was gone in one breath. According to the physiotherapist, Renske was not allowed to swim. Renske remembers it well: ‘I had to choose between the two, but it felt like an impossible choice. I chose what my heart told me and that was goalkeeping. Although small, I had to prove that I could do what Alice Lindhout said. From that moment, Renske’s goal was clear, he wanted to become the best goalkeeper in the world.
We speak to Renske on July 5, 2023, and the brand new national champion is taking it easy. They have a day off and Renske sees the younger man in de Koplobar. After becoming national champion with ZPC het Ravijn as a youth U.17 at the end of May, he is now preparing for his third final with TeamNL. This year it is an EjK in Turkey. Renske trains twice a year at the Water Polo Academy in Eindhoven and twice a week at the KNZB pool in Zeist. On top of all this, she also passed her HAVO, without fail, she says proudly.
“I learned a long time ago that I have to work hard to achieve my goals. I was able to do all this only with good planning and proper preparation. For example, I already learned at 4 that I have to take exams at school only three days a week. This is combined with training eight times a week and constant travel. I have to keep my affairs in order.
So Renske is grateful for all the help he’s received in recent years. From her paternal aunt, who was a retired teacher and taught chemistry lessons, to her grandmother, who drove her to the various practice sessions, not a moment was missed. All stops have been pulled out to help Renske’s Olympic dream.
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The next step
After this summer, the dream will enter the next phase. Renske attends the Water Polo Academy in Eindhoven full-time. There he will combine water polo with an HBO Sports Studies course at Fantis University of Applied Sciences. ‘It’s a new phase and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m going to the rooms in Eindhoven because I don’t have travel time anymore. I can invest this time in water polo and my studies. To participate in the KNZB’s water polo academy, it is also mandatory to follow a course, but while many colleagues opt for a staggered exam, Renske chooses a follow-up course in consideration of his social life. ‘I want to take my experiences in the game with me to the next level. With my education in sports science, I hope to gain a very broad education and work in rehabilitation therapy.
Not many people know that the best (youth) sport in the Netherlands is actually always unpaid. Renske knows what his sport has cost his parents. ‘For example, my parents have been paying for a public transport card for years so that I can go to school and/or training’.
Costs increased dramatically
Renske’s parents tell how costs have risen sharply in recent years. For example, two cars are needed, despite the fact that both parents work in Lelystad. But expenses for training courses, clothing and travel expenses, among others, are higher than average. Renske works part-time at Kerngezond in Lelystad. This way she is trying to save for her driver’s license. ‘It would be easier for all of us if we no longer had to carry Renske everywhere,’ says Natasha Boxchem.
‘Living in the rooms in Eindhoven makes a huge difference in travel time and it’s really worth it,’ says her mother. ‘But student room costs are slightly higher than a public transport card, so choices have to be made here too’. This is also Renske a Go to the Fund Me page It has started. He invests his spare time in sports, and he combines this with an HBO course. Because the costs involved in all of this are so high right now, Renske hopes to fund the water polo academy with a private sponsor base for the next two years.
On July 28, Renske will leave for EJK in Turkey. Prior to this, he will complete a five-day training course in Croatia.
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