Series: Olympic Games

En route to Paris: Justen Blok

In July, the Olympic Games will be held in Paris. TU Delft top athletes are ready to compete. What are their lives like and are they ready? Part 2: hockey player Justen Blok.

Justen Blok (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

You went as a reserve to the last Games in Tokyo. What is your current position in the team?

“I was able to play two matches in Tokyo in the end, including the quarter finals. Much has changed since then. Several guys have stopped and we are building a new team with a new coach. Recently, I have been playing a lot, but you never have any guarantees for a place in the starting line-up.”

What are you expecting from Paris?

“I am trying to have as few expectations as possible. They say that it is a lot bigger than you can imagine. The public and media will be a lot closer in these Olympics. I’m not sure what that will be like.”

What are you looking forward to the most?

“The Opening Ceremony will be amazing – on boats right through the city on the Seine. I hope I can join. I would also like to meet the stars of the American basketball team. Though I don’t think that they will stay in the Olympic Village so the chance that I do meet them is small.”

‘The Olympics are the highest competition for hockey players. Nothing exceeds it.’

In Tokyo the Dutch hockey team did not get beyond the quarter finals, but the expectations now are high. The media is talking about a ‘new golden generation’. What do you think the chances of a medal are?

“On paper, we are definitely the favourites. We came third in the World Championship last year, won the European Championship in the same year, and won gold in the Hockey Pro League, an international hockey competition for national teams, this year. Still, the differences between the five or six countries at the top are so small that there is no clear favourite.”

How is your team preparing for the Olympics?

“Apart from a big club competition, the Dutch team has a full hockey programme. We were away for three months last winter, playing in competitions in Argentina, South Africa and India. We have been playing for our club again since March. We train with the Dutch team in Papendal from Monday to Wednesday, and from Thursday to Sunday at our own clubs. When the competition stops in May, everyone trains for the national team full time.

This is a lot, but Paris is a good motivation to give it your all. The Olympics are the highest competition for hockey players. Nothing exceeds it.”

What is your studying and sporting life like and how do you combine the two?

“I have chosen to concentrate entirely on hockey for now. This means that my studies are on hold. I did take two subjects though. I did not pass one of them and will do a resit for the other in June. All going well the team will be in the Netherlands then so that I can take the exam. Anything I pass this year will be a bonus.

I have said for a couple of years that my study year will start after Paris. I will definitely continue playing hockey, but my studies have to take precedence at some point. If not, I will only graduate when I am 35 years old and I do not want that.”

Who: Justen Blok
Date of birth: 27 September 2000
Study: Civil Engineering and Geosciences, bachelor’s
Sport: Hockey
Club: HC Rotterdam
Team: Orange men’s team
Position: Defence
Status: Qualified for Paris

News editor Marjolein van der Veldt

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