On 11 April, javelin thrower Evelien Dekkers became the first Wageningen student and top-level sportsperson to receive a grant - 1,500 euros - from the Niels Smith Fund.
Evelien is working hard on her return to the athletics field after a shoulder operation in January. Her shoulder is recovering well but she has to relearn how to move her arm. 'So I won't be taking part in any competitions this year.' It might have been possible with the discus but Evelien prefers to concentrate on the javelin: 'Javelin throwing requires more technique and is more multifaceted than discus throwing. You have to be really fit and able to sprint and jump well, for example. A good throw depends on a lot of factors. If you improve something minor, that can easily make a difference of four metres. So you are constantly trying to perfect your throw.'
With a personal best of 58.99 metres, Evelien is ranked 33rd in the world. She voices her hopes of qualification for the Summer Olympic Games next year in London. She will need to throw at least two metres further to get there. 'It will all have to come together in May next year.'
Niels Smith Fund
The Niels Smith Fund aims to provide extra support for talented students at Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein to enable them to compete internationally. It is available for Dutch students who do not quite qualify for support from NOC*NSF, the Dutch sports confederation, but also for foreign students. The fund was set up by Niels' mother Marianne Remmers, who works at Van Hall Larenstein Velp, and studied and worked at Wageningen University. Niels was a talented footballer with a passion for the sport. However, in 2009 he committed suicide at the age of 15. Remmers decided last year that the money saved to pay for his university studies should be used to pass on the energy he had put into his sport. She is now contributing for three years to a talent tournament at his club SKV Wageningen, and she has set up a fund in his name that is administered by the Wageningen University Fund - the first fund not directly connected to the life sciences. Anyone who wishes can contribute to this fund, which will help ensure it can remain available for longer than five years.
Niels would have been seventeen last week.