Science - August 25, 2004

Sports day offers chance to try range of activities

Some of the Dutch participants at the sports day on Sunday did a double take. It looked like the Dutch Olympic steeplechase athlete and European record holder Simon Vroemen had flown back from Athens. It was his twin brother, Casper Vroemen who works at Wageningen UR. But Casper Vroemen is also an experienced athlete, and the newly arrived students seemed to enjoy his running exercises. Various sports were demonstrated under a blue sky at the sports complex 'De Bongerd'. In addition to traditional sports like tennis, hockey and basketball, other sports were demonstrated with great enthusiasm and well attended by the newly arrived students. To get in the mood, the would-be sportsmen could also watch the Olympic Games on a big screen in the bar.

Women’s boxing
Women and boxing, a strange combination? Not for the Wageningen student sports club 'De Grondleggers'. “About thirty to forty percent of our members are female and today already six women have shown an interest in our sport,” says Frank van Geesink. Together with a few others he gives a demonstration of boxing and also judo and jujitsu in front of the sports centre. A few female students have put on boxing gloves and are punching each other. Van Geesink: “On average about ten to twenty people come to the boxing training once a week. I very much like the fitness aspect. I would say eighty percent of the time consists of working on your condition: running, sit-ups and so on. And you train your whole body. It’s important to know is that we fight each other with respect. Hitting hard on the head is not done. We have an agreement to mainly strike on the body, and only touch lightly on the head.” Frank Versteegen, a brown belt in jujitsu joins in: “Our beginners learn quickly. This is because we like to put beginners up against the more experienced members during the training. This is the fastest way to develop your fighting skills. We can also hold our training sessions in English if there’s enough demand.”

Developing mountain goat skills
On the climbing wall students can learn the tricks of mountain climbing, with a far greater challenge on the horizon. “Every summer we hit the Alps, a great experience,” says Bart-Jan Davidse, one of the members of student mountaineering club 'Ibex'. “We do glacier climbing for example. Last time I performed a simulated rescue operation on a glacier. We set the situation up to look like someone had fallen down a crack in the ice, and I went down, dangling on a rope I had attached to the ice. It was quite a thrill as these cracks are easily tens of metres deep.” When the group sets out to climb a mountain, they take all necessary safety precautions, says Davidse. “Nobody in our group goes climbing without the proper gear, including ropes, cables and so on. I myself find it important to draw a line somewhere and not take the dangerous routes. Certain slopes I just do not climb, they are too dangerous.” Davidse is glad the group is varied; there are equal numbers of men and women. “It’s a very nice, social group. We get know each other very well during our trips and training, so we enjoy hanging out with each other. “There’s a wide range of nationalities too, including Dutch, Spanish and Polish.”

No sweat sport
For those who prefer a more relaxed sport, one club in particular may have the answer. During the sports day members of 'De Paardengroep' (horse group) could be seen strolling around the soccer field with their horse Lawert pulling a cart. Rosemarijn Gerritsen tells, “Our horse belongs to the university. We only have one horse, but it’s enough. We make nice trips through the forests around Wageningen.”

Hugo Bouter

25/26 September: Wageningen Students Alpine Club Ibex has an introduction weekend in Germany for beginners. See www.wau.nl/ibex

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