Maarten van der Weijden
Maarten van der Weijden (born 31 March 1981) is a Dutch long distance and marathon swimmer born in Alkmaar. He is most famously known for being the only leukemia cancer survivor to win an Olympic gold medal and was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in the Class of 2011. He won his gold medal in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in exceedingly dramatic fashion.
Van der Weijden was known as a promising swimming talent in his youth and was Dutch national champion at the 1500m freestyle (1998 in both short course and long course, 1999 long course and 2000 long course), 400m freestyle (1999 short course and long course, and 2000 long course) and 5K open water in 2000.
He also participated at the 1999 European Junior Championships and the 2000 World Open Water Swimming Championships. In 2001 he was confronted with leukemia and his career was considered over. In an incredible turn of events, he fought back against cancer and made a comeback in 2003. Over the next few years, he regained his strength and qualified for the 2003 World Swimming in Barcelona. He eventually won another three Dutch titles in the 800m freestyle (short course and long course) and 1500m freestyle (long course). He also finished seventh at the 10K and 25K at the 2004 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and added a Dutch title at the 800 m freestyle (long course) and 25K open water that same year.
Later in 2004, he swam across the IJsselmeer in 4:20.58, breaking the former record by almost 15 minutes to collect 50,000 Euros which he donated for cancer research.
In 2005 he won the Dutch title in the 400m freestyle (short course) for the second time in his career. He finished fifth in the 2005 World Swimming Championships in the 10K and sixth in the 25K in Montreal, Canada. He also won three FINA World Cup competitions in Ismaila, Al Fujeirah and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
In 2006 he won a silver at the 2006 European Aquatics Championships 10K.
Van der Weijden launched a website called "Maarten van der Weijden zwemt tegen kanker" (Maarten van der Weijden swims against cancer) where he informed his fans about his life and his career. He also collected more money to invest for cancer research. However, the website and the project were set on hold as of 30 June 2006. He won another FINA World Cup race in Rosario, Argentina in January 2007. At the end of the FINA World Cup calendar he finished in second position overall and during the 2007 World Swimming Championships 10K in Melbourne, Australia, he finished seventh.
His aim was to become a world champion. He fulfilled his aim when he won the 2K at the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Sevilla, Spain. He also won a bronze medal at the 5K and became fourth in the 10K. This result in the 10K race qualified him for the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. There he ended up winning the gold medal on August 21st, coming from far back in the pack and narrowly edging out David Davies of Great Britain and Thomas Lurz of Germany on the final straightaway.
He announced the end of his professional swimming career during his dramatic acceptance speech as Dutch Sportsman of the Year award ceremonies. He continues to speak eloquently as a motivational speaker and is a spokesperson for Unilever and blueseventy.
He has also written a popular book.
Op 21 augustus 2008 won Maarten van der Weijden olympisch goud op de tien kilometer open water zwemmen in Beijing. Dat markeerde het eind van een lange weg naar de top. In 2001 werd bij hem acute lymfatische leukemie geconstateerd. Zijn overlevingskansen werden geschat tussen de 30 en 50 procent. Na een serie zware chemokuren, waaronder een stamceltransplantatie, genas hij van zijn ziekte en pakte hij zijn loopbaan als wedstrijdzwemmer weer op.
Hij won zilver op de tien kilometer tijdens het EK van Boedapest in 2006 en werd in 2008 in Sevilla op de vijfentwintig kilometer Wereldkampioen. In Beter vertelt hij het verhaal van zijn ziekte en genezing, en geeft zijn visie daarop. Hij schetst de moeilijke relatie met zijn vader en zijn streven om door een uitgekiende tactiek de beste zwemmer te worden. Prachtig beschrijft Van der Weijden hoe de eerste meters die hij zwom na zijn genezing uiteindelijk leidden tot een olympische gouden medaille. Beter is een indringend en ontroerend boek over toeval, pech en geluk in het leven.
2008 Beijing Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
Maarten van der Weijden came through in Beijing and left indelible marks on the sport. The efforts of many left seeds that are just beginning to blossom. The final results of the 2008 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim are below:
GOLD - Maarten van der Weijden, 1:51:51.6
SILVER - David Davies, 1:51:53.1 (1.5 seconds behind leader)
BRONZE - Thomas Lurz, 1:51:53.6 (2.0 seconds behind leader)
4 - Valerio Cleri, 1:52:07.5 (15.9 seconds behind leader)
5 - Evgeny Drattsev, 1:52:08.9 (17.3 seconds behind leader)
6 - Petar Stoychev, 1:52:09.1 (17.5 seconds behind leader)
7 - Brian Ryckeman, 1:52:10.7 (19.1 seconds behind leader)
8 - Mark Warkentin, 1:52:13.0 (21.4 seconds behind leader)
9 - Chad Ho, 1:52:13.1 (21.5 seconds behind leader)
10 - Erwin Maldonado, 1:52:13.6 (22.0 seconds behind leader)
11 - Ky Hurst, 1:52:13.7 (22.1 seconds behind leader)
12 - Igor Chervynskiy, 1:52:14.7 (23.1 seconds behind leader)
13 - Francisco Hervas, 1:52:16.5 (24.9 seconds behind leader)
14 - Allan do Carmo, 1:52:16.6 (25.0 seconds behind leader)
15 - Gilles Rondy, 1:52:16.7 (25.1 seconds behind leader)
16 - Spyridon Gianniotis, 1:52:20.4 (28.8 behind leader)
17 - Rostislav Vitek, 1:52:41.8 (50.2 behind leader)
18 - Luis Escobar, 1:53:47.9 (1:56 behind leader)
19 - Saleh Mohammad, 1:54:37.7 (2:46 behind leader)
20 - Mohamed El Zanaty, 1:55:17.0 (3:25 behind leader)
21 - Damian Blaum, 1:55:48.6 (3:57 behind leader)
22 - Arseniy Lavrentyev, 2:03:39.6 (11:48 behind leader)
23 - Xin Tong, 2:09:13.4 (17:21 behind leader)
24 - Csaba Gercsak, did not finish
25 - Vladimir Dyatchin, disqualified in a time of 1:52:13.7 (22.1 seconds behind leader)
- Maarten van der Weijden Website
- Champions, Adventurers, Record Holders and Endurers
- International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame website
- Open Water Swimming website
- Maarten Van Der Weijden With A Heart Of Gold
- 30 Open Water Swimmers Known By One Name
- WOWSA, IMSHOF Heads To Cork, Ireland
- Tweeting Tons Together