Henk Grol, Sanne van Dijke and Guusje Steenhuis may participate in the Olympic Games next summer, the selection committee of the Dutch judo association announced on Tuesday evening. That means that Kim Polling, the number three in the world in her weight class, will be missing from Tokyo next summer.
Good to know
- The Netherlands may only send one judoka per weight class to the Games.
- Henk Grol and Roy Meyer (100+ kg), Guusje Steenhuis and Marhinde Verkerk (-78 kg) and Kim Polling and Sanne van Dijke (-70 kg) were involved in a competition.
- The Olympic qualifying process started in May 2018. The Masters in Doha (January), the Grand Slam in Tel Aviv (February) and the European Championship in Lisbon (April) were the last three measurement moments.
- Juul Franssen (-63 kg), Tornike Tsjkadoea (-60 kg), Frank de Wit (-81 kg), Noël van ‘t End (-90 kg) and Michael Korrel (-100 kg) have already been selected.
After the European Championship earlier this month it was more or less clear that Grol (36) and Steenhuis (28) would be allowed to go to Tokyo. Both judokas were already better off than their competitor and also took silver in Lisbon. Grol also won at the European Championship in a heated match against rival Roy Meyer and Steenhuis defeated Marhinde Verkerk in a direct duel.
Only in the category up to 70 kilograms it was really unclear after the last measurement moment who would be preferred by the selection committee. Polling seemed to be in a slightly better position for the European Championship, but she saw her competitor Van Dijke take gold by beating the French world topper Margaux Pinot in the final.
Thirty-year-old Polling lost to Pinot in the semi-finals and could not compete for bronze due to an injury. Van Dijke, the number four in the world, said after her European title that she is “the only right choice” for the Olympic Games and the selection committee’s choice has indeed fallen on her.
Sanne van Dijke was crowned European champion earlier this month and is allowed to go to the Olympic Games.
‘This is unbelievably bitter for Kim’
It is a hard blow for four-time European champion Polling, who in the run-up to the European Championship “could not name a single reason” why she would be passed over for Tokyo. The Groninger, who lives in Italy, was allowed to go to the Games in 2016, but she was immediately eliminated. Van Dijke makes her Olympic debut.
“In my career I have often been in a position to make choices, but this was the most difficult,” says Tjaart Kloosterboer chairman of the selection committee. “Of course you are always assured of a good choice when you talk about the number 3 and 4 in the world, but it obviously doesn’t feel like that. It is incredibly bitter for Kim that we cannot take her to Tokyo.”
According to Kloosterboer, there were no significant differences between Polling and Van Dijke throughout the qualification process. “In the end – partly based on the input of coaches – we eliminated the last part of the process. That is slightly in favor of Sanne.”
Grol represents the fourth Olympic Games
Grol can prepare for his fourth Olympic Games. The heavyweight has already won two bronze Olympic medals in the category up to 100 kilograms. The 2016 Games ended in a debacle for Grol – the third round was the end station – after which he switched to heavyweight.
Steenhuis has never participated in the Games before. Five years ago, the number two of the 2018 World Cup lost the Olympic competition from Verkerk, with whom she now settles. The 35-year-old Verkerk, the 2009 world champion, did not win a medal at the Games in 2012 and 2016.
When designating the judokas, the selection committee of the judo association looked at, among other things, results in qualifying tournaments, the place on the world ranking and the theoretical chance of a medal in Tokyo. In addition, mental resilience and susceptibility to injury were taken into account.