The Dutch Olympics committee and sports federation has softened its ambitions for next year’s Olympics in Paris, saying that it is no longer only striving for a place in the medals table top 10.
Chef de mission Pieter van den Hoogenband told broadcaster NOS in an interview that the competition will be about the stories, not the medals. This, the broadcaster said, is a “subtle change in course” by the gold medal swimmer, who won Olympic titles in 2000 and 2004.
The Netherlands has been striving for a permanent top 10 place in the medals table for the past 13 years, under the flag “towards a winning top sports climate”.
But in a new video, featuring some of the Netherlands’ Olympic athletes, the emphasis is on the message that “our stories mean more than our medals”. And Van den Hoogenband said he hoped that the current generation of medal winners will inspire the next.
“That is our mission and hopefully it will translate into great results and stories,” the three-times Olympic champion said.
At the last Olympics in Tokyo the Netherlands came in a record-breaking seventh place with 10 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze medals.
However, some sports, including gymnastics and hockey, have been hit by scandals about bullying and abuse, and the NOC*NSF has launched an investigation into the wider situation.
“The Netherlands has a certain status in international sports and people look to us,” Van den Hoogenband said. “We are going to defend our position in our own way. And I have no idea where we will end up in the medals table. I only know that we are going to put in a fantastic performance.”
“I hope people have sufficient trust in me that they will report any unpleasant experiences to me,” he said. “I want to help them create a safe environment. We have to do well in Paris, but not at any price.”
Sports statistics company Gracenote expects the Dutch squad to end in eighth place on the Paris table with 13 gold, 11 silver, and 17 bronze medals. The agency bases its forecasts on individual and team performances at the Olympics, world championships and other international events.
At four of the last six Olympic Games, the Netherlands has won medals in 11 to 13 sports and this looks like being repeated at the 2024 summer games, Gracenote said: “However, success in a year will primarily depend on four sports; rowing, cycling – track, cycling – road and athletics.”
Gracenote also expects the men’s and women’s hockey teams to win gold, according to the AD.
On Wednesday, the Dutch women’s water polo team reached the final of the world championships in Japan, guaranteeing them a place in the Olympic competition. They will meet Australia or Spain in Friday’s final.
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