After a summer's hard training, Mark Ooijevaar is ready for the start of the distance speed-skating season this weekend in Nijmegen. Mark is fitter and more rested than he was this time last year.
A Forest and nature management student at Wageningen university, Ooijevaar came fifth in the ten-kilometre race at the 2008 World Cup, and is in the Dutch top five in the five- and the ten-kilometre races. But he still trains with Noord Holland/ Utrecht, even though as a top sportsman in the region, he has extra facilities and has had a personal sponsor for two years now.
Ooijevaar's sponsor this summer was Engenius technical recruitment agency. This could lead to a place in a commercial team, says Michiel Wienese, business initiator of the newly formed 1nP Engenius, who was also involved in establishing the APPM team.
Wienese thinks that a team will be good for Ooijevaar. 'He's been working on his own for too long.' Sponsor 1nP, with experience in the mental health sector, offers skaters mental coaching. This could be helpful for Ooijevaar, his agent says. 'Mark doesn't like skating in a warm hall, which can affect his performance.'
The first race of the season will be on 30 October, and will use World Cup distances. Ooijevaar will definitely skate the five-kilometre race, and he will probably automatically qualify for the longer distance, and won't have to take part in further qualifying rounds. The Olympic winter sports are in February. /Yvonne de Hilster