Record Dutch participants in Olympics

With a record number of sports men and women participating and a hockey player chosen to carry the national flag, the Dutch are ready for Friday’s official opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Some 242 Dutch sportsmen and women and 141 support staff will walk into the Olympic ‘Bird’s nest’ stadium in the Chinese capital today. Between now and the end of the Olympics on August 24, the Dutch will participate in 94 of the total 302 Olympic events..
The oldest member of the Dutch sports delegation is 45-year-old Mitch Booth (sailing). And at 17, softball player Britt Vonk is the youngest. The heaviest athlete is Rutger Smith (130kg)who is competing in the shot put and discus events, while at 46kg runner Hilda Kibet, who will take part in the 10,000m race, is by far the lightest.
The two-times Olympic dressage champion Anky van Grunsven will participate in the Olympics for the sixth time, a Dutch record shared by only two other competitors in the past.
The national Olympic organisation NOCNSF has appointed men’s field hockey captain and record international Jeroen Delmee (35) to carry the Dutch flag during the opening ceremony. This is the hockey veteran’s fourth Olympic Games. Delmee has won two gold and one silver medals in previous Games.
No major problems
The NOCNSF is ‘relatively satisfied’ with the Chinese organisation of the event, reports news service ANP on Friday. Apart from some trouble with logistics, no major problems have occurred so far.
Even anticipated problems with smog are not as bad as expected. The NOCNSF website says no complaints have been reported by Dutch athletes, although they have been given various medicines to avoid respiratory problems.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende will have lunch with the Chinese president Hu Jintao today before attending the opening ceremony. Balkenende will be in China until Sunday and will watch several sporting events as well as visiting Chinese state television together with Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas who designed the broadcaster’s new building.
Football result disappointing
The Dutch team kicked off the Olympic football tournament yesterday with a 0-0 draw against Nigeria. Oranje lost two important players during the game, Roy Makaay was substituted with a heavily bruised foot and is likely to miss Sunday’s match against the US, while Evander Sno was given a red card for a fierce tackle.
Head coach Foppe de Haan told the media he was disappointed with the result and said many players had difficulty coping with the heat and humidity.

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