Ward van Zeijl and Bart Lukkes


Leiden rowers qualify for European Championship: ‘We continue to beat competitors from our monkey rock’

Leiden, August 18, 2020, 6:18 PM by Reanne van Kleef

Asopos de Vliet rowers Ward van Zeijl and Bart Lukkes have qualified for the European Rowing Championships that will take place in Poland from 9 to 11 October. In the light men’s double scull (LMx2), the people from Leiden left the competitive boat of the duo Tibben / Van Velden behind during the trials that were held this weekend at the Bosbaan in Amstelveen.

Van Zeijl and Lukkes have been working on their ultimate mission for two years: to reach the Olympic Games in Tokyo. An extra difficult task because the rowers are not supported by the rowing association. With good results in recent years, the chances of qualification increased.

It was therefore a serious disappointment that the rowing association suddenly designated the talented duo Obbe Tibben / David van Velden as ‘the’ Dutch boat on the only Olympic number that remains within light men’s rowing and also gave them a talent status with support.

The association therefore intended to send the talents to the European Championship, but Van Zeijl and Lukkes put a stop to that. “Very dubious,” says Van Zeijl. “They had never weighed in or raced. The selection was exclusively based on age and physical talents. Of course we did not agree. So I immediately called that we wanted to confront. ”

Technical director Hessel Evertse agreed with that proposal, which led to a ‘best of 3’ race over the Olympic distance of two kilometers, including an official weigh-in to determine whether the rowers meet the weight requirement. It didn’t come to three races, because the duo Van Zeijl / Lukkes was already twice the fastest and also in a good time with which they can compete internationally.

“We knew they were young, strong and explosive. But we have the experience and knew that we just had to row our own race ”, says Van Zeijl about their tactics. And that tactic paid off. During the first trial Tibben and Van Velden first took a small lead, but Van Zeijl and Lukkes took some distance in the second part of the race and hit a big gap. During the second trial, the people of Leiden were in the lead from the start and that lead was only extended.

Positively surprised
Van Zeijl: “We are relieved that we were able to achieve this result. Because we have adhered to the corona protocols, this is the first time in months that we have really been able to measure ourselves. We have shown what we can do and there is even room for improvement. ” The spectators of the Dutch rowing association were also positively surprised, Van Zeijl knows.

Whether the Leiden duo is now also supported by the union, Van Zeijl doubts. “We first have to show what we are worth at the European Championship. I understand that Obbe and David were given Seniors B status, but we are working a lot longer and have to meet other requirements. Doing well at a European Championship in an Olympic number. And we finally get that chance, after two years of fighting. ”

Monkey Rock
Van Zeijl and Lukkes can earn a nomination for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OKT) in May 2021 at the European Championship. There the Olympic tickets are distributed. However, it is far from certain that the people of Leiden will still have the fastest Dutch boat. “For now we have shown that we can master the fastest speed. Only after the OKT can you really say that you have conquered your place. Until then, you are beating everyone off your monkey rock. ” It is expected that only the duo Tibben / Van Velden will still compete. The other light rowers have shifted their priorities.

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