Last Saturday at the 2020 RS:X World Championships, Dorian van Rijsselberghe sailed his last race in the Olympic RS:X windsurfing class. Van Rijsselberghe went home with a win in the final medal race. Training partner Kiran Badloe, went into the medal race with a ten point lead, and finished fifth which was enough to land him the world title for the second year in a row. By winning, Badloe also secured himself the Dutch Olympic ticket for Tokyo 2020. In an interview with Dutch Television soon after, Van Rijsselberghe, the two-time Olympic champion, said that he looks forward to a new future.
Van Rijsselberghe: "I have always sailed with my heart, but that has been a difficult task lately. Deep inside, the drive was not big enough to do what I needed to do at these Worlds. This past week, each time I didn’t achieve the necessary result, I felt a sort of relief. Which is very strange and in terms of political correctness, is actually against what you are supposed to want as a sportsman. Ordinarily, you always have to want to win. You should do everything to defend your title and I, I just want to go home to me wife and kids."
Badloe: "Dorian had a pretty sick race"
Kiran Badloe commenting on the medal race said “The racing was exciting, nerve wracking, physical, mental; it had it all. Dorian had a pretty sick race and led from almost the beginning. I put myself at the back and I had to dig deep to make sure I didn’t drop into second overall. I didn’t have nerves, but I did feel pressure and I knew I had to step it up and pass some people on the last few legs. Lucky I was able to do bring it home.”
Aaron McIntosh proud of both sailors
New-Zealander Aaron McIntosh, the coach of both Badloe and Van Rijsselberghe, was proud of the dynamic duo and the journey they had travelled together. McIntosh: “Only 2 points separate them. Kiran wins the ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, a superb effort when you know that you have to beat the 2x Olympic champion to succeed. For Dorian this was his final race. I have shared the most incredible journey with this super man. It's an honour and a privilege to have spent the last 11 years working with this special guy. Going out with a win in the medal race – ending his career on a high as he passes the reigns to Kiran in the proudest most humble way, says so much of this guy. We will miss you my friend.”
A gold medal is worth a lot to me, but not everything.
The lack of family-time in California had a big impact on the father of two young daughters. Van Rijsselberghe: “It's almost impossible for me to be away from home for about three months. During training camps, like this winter in New Zealand, or even race days, I am sometimes so busy with home. Some people could say, just flick the switch. But for me that’s not an option. If you let go of those processes, you outgrow each other. A gold medal is worth a lot to me, but it’s not everything. "
Ahead of the World Championships, Van Rijsselberghe frequently said to various media outlets: “A third gold medal would be nice, but does it make me a better person, a better man or a better father? No."
Coach McIntosh on Van Rijsselberghe: a great athlete and a great person
A very successful coach McIntosh, who on Saturday had both his athletes occupy the top two echelons at World Championships (for the third year in a row), understands Van Rijsselberghe’s point of view. McIntosh: “You have to have the will and the hunger. How many gold medals do you want? How many do you need? What do you define as a person? I think three gold medals do not define him more or less. "
McIntosh is adamant however, that we are not seen the last of Van Rijsselberghe either. “He will be involved and stay involved. He will be involved in something bigger and more beautiful. He is an example, a mentor. And he is a great athlete and person. For us, for the Dutch, sailing and the Dutch Olympic team, he is the president in my eyes. We need him. And so does Dutch sport too. "
Looking into the future, the 2012 and 2016 RS:X Olympic Champion himself, said he will still be around. Van Rijsselberghe: “I'm going to see how I can contribute to Kir (Kiran Badloe [sic]) and his journey so he will be full prepared for the Games. Next to that I now also have more time for my own WAVES Festival on Texel, at Paal17. Where we hope to host races for the new Olympic discipline for Paris 2024, the windfoil. The sailing world will see me back too – in 2022 I will be the director of the Sailing World Championships (for all Olympic classes) in The Hague, the Netherlands, my home country."
"Finally, I really hope to be able to be in Tokyo in whatever way and to contribute to TeamNL in my own way."