Marhinde Verkerk  (NED)



 ‘When you stand still you go backwards’ is the mantra that 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner Marhinde Verkerk lives by as she makes a final push towards Olympic qualification.


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: There is a very confident air about Marhinde Verkerk just moments after she is awarded the gold medal for winning in the -78 kg category at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. “It feels heavy around the neck but it is a nice kind of heavy,” she laughs. Talk to her about the final against Mayra Aguiar of Brazil and she doesn’t hold back in her assessment.


“As we entered the golden score period, I saw that Aguiar was already exulting as she thought that she had won and I was wondering what that was about. She failed at a reverse seoi nage on me and I held her down for ne waza, and that was that,” she says while explaining the ippon that got her a second grand slam gold medal, 2 years after she last won one in the 2013 Tokyo Grand Slam. “I was thrilled as the anthem was going to be for me,” she exults.


‘Very Dutch’ in her own words, Verkerk describes herself as a judoka who needs change and variation all the time. “I can’t perform the same warm-up routines before competition,” she explains. As she further explains, she is not very technical in her practice of judo but is very organised and methodical. “I try to move around a lot on the tatami and tire out my opponent. I look to be aggressive at all times and search for my moment to make the right move. It’s all about being dynamic,” she goes on to say. You ask her if she is the same in her life away from judo and she thinks before agreeing that she is. Quiz her when was the last time she changed an apartment because she was bored with the same surroundings and she laughs heartily while saying that she bought a new lamp sometime ago.


Verkerk is a trained interior designer by education. It is something that takes 10-12 hours of her week as she cannot dedicate more due to judo but she is also quick to say that it is a necessity in the Netherlands as just being a judoka is not a viable option in a country not known for judo. “I would hope that more people get involved with judo back home and there is a push made to educate people about the sport. It doesn’t need to be too technical but familiarity with the sport can be built,” she says. From her end, she has a website of her own that she uses to spread word of her exploits in judo and also uses social media to interact with her followers. It is a trait of modern sportspersons to stay active with the followers of sport and Verkerk is not lost to the importance of that.


The win in Abu Dhabi came at a critical time for Verkerk as she seeks to be number 1 in her weight category in the Netherlands to make the trip to Rio for the Olympics next year. She is sure of participation and is even planning to give her beloved sport of snowboarding a miss this year just so that she can eliminate any risk of injury ahead of the Olympics. It is what is made her return to Abu Dhabi after a gap of 4 years to compete and better her loss in the final in the 2011 grand prix. She is methodical, organised, confident and most importantly, hungry for glory. She has earned the mark of a champion.


 © IJF Media Team - Isla Molleson

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