The Netherlands at the 2012 Summer Olympics!
The Olympics are among the most spectacular and exciting sporting events in the world. Cheering for athletes from your adoptive home can add a lot to the fun, so before you tune in to the opening ceremonies this coming Friday, why not take a closer look at the Netherlands at the 2012 Summer Olympics?
Dutch athletes at the Olympic Games
The Netherlands made its Olympics debut in 1900. Since then, Dutch athletes have won 73 Gold, 80 Silver, and 95 Bronze medals. With 4 Golds, 2 Silvers, and 2 Bronze medals, swimmer Inge De Bruijn (now retired) is the most decorated Dutch Olympian of all time.
Dutch athletes brought home 7 Gold, 5 Silver, and 4 Bronze medals from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, for an overall ranking of 12th at the Games. Dressage champion Anky van Grunsven was the Netherlands' only multiple medalist, with a Gold in Individual dressage and a Silver in Team dressage. Van Grunsven is back this summer, riding once again the horse Salinero with whom she won her medals in 2008.
In fact, female Dutch athletes carry more than their fair share of the medal load. The women's 4x100m relay swimming team and field hockey team will all defend gold medals from Beijing, as will rowing duo Marit van Eupen and Kirsten van der Kolk and rockstar cyclist Marianne Vos, who already has one Olympic gold and seven world championship titles to her name.
All in all, the American magazine Sports Illustrated predicts that the Dutch will bring home 5 Gold, 4 Silver, and 7 Bronze medals from this summer's Games. You can check out their coverage of the games here, and coverage by the Dutch Olympic Committee and Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) here.
Dutch companies at the Olympic Games
The Dutch aren't only active at the Olympics in front of the cameras - many Dutch companies have contributed expertise and technology to the development of the Olympic facilities and to equipment that helps optimise athletes' performances.
Dutch technology cleared the way for the Olympic site project in the first place, when engineering company Heijmans carried out the major soil decontamination project prior to construction of the Olympic Park. Van den Berk has also contributed landscaping expertise in the form of 2.400 trees for the Athletes Village.
Royal Imtech has provided the sustainable climate technology in the Olympic Stadium, and the entire Olympic Village is being illuminated with sustainable lighting solutions by Philips. And the games will open on July 27 to the chimes of a giant bell made by Royal Eijsbouts, a Dutch bell foundry.
While state-of-the-art sport facilities make experiencing the games more enjoyable, safe, and sustainable for athletes and spectators alike, in the end it's all about the athletes' performances. High tech equipment and training techniques help gives athletes a competitive edge, and the Dutch are also key players in this arena.
For example, a carbon resin composite developed by DSM has helped make the already high tech boats for the Dutch Olympic eight rowing team and the 470 Class 2 person sailing teams more lightweight and rigid.
The Dutch swimming team has also been using state-of-the-art Dutch sport technology. At the Pieter van den Hoogenband training centre in Eindhoven, swimmers train using the Vision Training System. This unique system, comprised of 12 cameras, makes detailed analyses of swimmers' techniques and targets areas for improvement.
The swim centre is one of six so-called InnoSportLabs in Holland where athletes can work on perfecting their performance. InnoSportLabs teamed up with Philips to develop a revolutionary new heart monitor, Alpha, which can be worn around the wrist instead of the chest and makes a continuous ECG.
These are just a few examples of how the Dutch will stand out at this summer's Games, and will hopefully make you feel more connected to, and maybe even a bit of pride for your adoptive Dutch home. Let the games begin!