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31 July 2008, 10:48 am
Get to know Marcelien de Koning
Marcelien de Koning and Lobke Berkhout celebrate victory at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais
Marcelien de Koning, left, and Lobke Berkhout celebrate victory at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais

2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Marcelien de Koning is the helm of the three-time World Champion Women's 470 team from the Netherlands - Rick van Wijngaarden finds out more about the Dutch skipper...
The Dutch team of Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT will start as one of the favourites for the title in the Women's 470 event in Qingdao, although both sailors will be making their debut appearance at the Olympic Games. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 the pair swept to three consecutive World Championship titles and to the top of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Although their form this year has been slightly less electric (they finished fourth at the 2008 Worlds) they will still start as one of the favourites for medals in Qingdao.

At A Glance

The Event

Event: Women's Two Person Dinghy
Equipment: 470
Racing Dates: 11-18 August
Medal Race: 18 August
Find out more about the event and the equipment here

The Sailors

The Netherlands - Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT

Ages: 30 and 29
Current ISAF World Sailing Ranking: 9
Previous Olympic Games: None
Best Results: 2007 Worlds - 1st; 2007 Miami - 1st; 2006 Medemblik - 1st; 2006 Worlds - 1st; 2005 Worlds - 1st
2008 Form: Worlds - 4th; Medemblik - 3rd; Hyeres - 9th; Palma - 1st

1. If you can describe yourself in 5 words, what would those be?

Optimistic, down-to-earth, determined, friendly and enthusiastic.

2. What makes you choose the 470?

I tried on my own for some time but I was too small and not strong enough. Every time my scoring was up in the light but down in the breeze so I switched. Then it started to be the other way around! Now we are in balance.

3. What was your best regatta ever and why?

My best regatta ever was the World Championships in Rizhou [in 2006]. Our goal was the top ten and then we kept on climbing! We trained so hard before and it did pay off. We amazed ourselves. The coaches had that good vibe before already. They always know things.

4. Why do you want to be the helm/crew?

I'd like to crew as well but my length and weight did not give me an option. Maybe in the next campaign. It was a big struggle to switch from Europe (former Olympic woman class) to 470. It felt like I had to learn how to sail all over again.

5. What's sailing 470 like in your country?

Every Dutch person has been on a boat at least ones in their lives. On big national venues people go through the canals on boats and party on it. Sailing is quit popular. There are quit some sailors but the racing population goes up and down. Lobke and I were sailing Optimist in a big fleet. Now it's been going down some. At the Dutch championships we have about 20 Dutch teams going for the medals.

6. What is the hardest part of an Olympic campaign?

Being away from home is the hardest. I would like to have all the races at the same spot so I could live at that bay and take my whole family and friends with me.

7. What is your best asset on sailing and why?

I just like the game. I don't need to win with miles. I like tight sailing and then outsmart the others. That gives me kicks. And I can't live without any adrenaline. Otherwise I don't know I'm alive! So best asset? Enjoying sailing!

Rick van Wijngaarden (originally published in 470 eTimes May 2008)
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