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Dutch Fans Invade Judo Venue


Dutch rowing fans at judo venue.


I was explaining to some Dutch judo fans this afternoon how I was basically in Beijing to write less about the athletes and more about the idiots.

"You won't find them bigger than us, idiot-wise," Job de Bondt said.

Right then. So a dozen Dutch rowers left Amsterdam in late July and went to Moscow, where they jumped on the trans-Siberian railroad to head toward Beijing for the Olympics. Why not just fly to China, you're wondering?

"They could never have so much beer on an airplane," Dirk Van Leeuwen pointed out. "We would totally dry out."


How to prepare for the judo finals.

The trip was nominally to support their teammate with the Aegir Rowing Club, Reinder Lubbers, a member of the Dutch national rowing squad. But you can't go all the way to China just to watch rowing, and so in between supporting Lubbers, the rowers have already lost a vodka-drinking contest against Mongolian wrestlers, set several single-day consumption records in their train's club car, sampled fermented yak milk, visited the field hockey and judo venues, exchanged headgear with a member of the Chinese Army, purchased a Mongolian flying helmet, and gone crowd surfing at the Holland Heineken House while wearing said helmet.

"At home we're actually quite normal," one of them told me.

They aren't necessarily huge judo fans, although one of the rowers's brother--former gold medalist Mark Huizinga--was competing in the 90-kg event today, necessitating a trip. Indeed, the Dutch had two contenders for medals in today's judo action, and "that's when we get enthusiastic. Aroused. Turned on," de Bondt told me.

When they get back to Holland next week they plan to return to their normal jobs, and to "try to be responsible," de Bondt said, although they still have further goals on this trip.

"We want to drink beer with Maxima," Mans Mees said, referring to Holland's crown princess.

And it goes without saying that, like every Dutch fan in this city or any other city hosting an international sporting event, the rowers are committed to wearing orange at all times. Specifically, their matching 100 percent polyester traffic-cone orange suits, which would be great for a '70s-themed Halloween party but are perhaps ill-suited to life in Beijing's sauna. They smell, in other words.

"Like tulips," Mees said, which would be accurate if ginkgo trees began sprouting bulbs.

Some of the rowers have tried to wash the suits out to remove the stink, but polyester doesn't dry well in Beijing, and so there was some damp orange polyester in the stands at Beijing's University of Science and Technology Gymnasium. One rower apparently tried wearing his suit into the shower. Oddly, that didn't go well.

I asked why it was necessary to bring polyester orange suits on a beer-fueled train trip through Siberia merely to look correct inside a gymnasium where large men were tossing each other onto mats.

"Never leave home without your rubber," Van Leeuwen said.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 13, 2008; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Next: America's Vegan MMA Judo Sweetheart

Comments

hilarious.

Posted by: dan | August 13, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

At UVa I recall encountering groups of young louts in orange with neckties, boozing heavily before, during and after sporting contests. Much less charming than these Dutch lads seem to be, but otherwise sharing the same overall ethos.

I mean, that second picture of the dude shotgunning a beer, that could have been shot behind Scott Stadium on any fall afternoon. Uncanny.

Also, how does one pronounce "Oranjes"? Is the final syllable like 'yes'?

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | August 13, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

it looks fun to be dutch. wearing loud orange and it's totally okay, smoking the ganj and it's totally okay, boozy relatively liberal culture with tall leggy women. they're doing alright in the netherlands.

Posted by: Charles Zimbabwe | August 13, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

""Like tulips," Mees said, which would be accurate if ginkgo trees began sprouting bulbs."

Outstanding.

Posted by: Lindemann | August 13, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Best part: Lubbers is actually an alternate - he wasn't even scheduled to row. However, he ended up filling in for an ill teammate, so the trip wasn't entirely for drinkin' purposes:

http://www.row2k.com/olympics/features.cfm?ID=1915

Posted by: EdTheRed | August 13, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"the rowers have already lost a vodka-drinking contest against Mongolian wrestlers, set several single-day consumption records in their train's club car, sampled fermented yak milk, visited the field hockey and judo venues, exchanged headgear with a member of the Chinese Army, purchased a Mongolian flying helmet, and gone crowd surfing at the Holland Heineken House while wearing said helmet."

Have you considered them guest-hosting the Bog, er, Smog for a day?

Posted by: Rob Iola | August 13, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Also, how does one pronounce "Oranjes"? Is the final syllable like 'yes'?"

Yeah -- it's ore - ahn - yes. One of these knuckleheads is an Oranje (ore-ahn-yeh).

The Dutch are good to have around, but it's probably for the best that there aren't that many of them.

Posted by: Andy | August 13, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah, my compatriots are making me proud!

Posted by: Lisa | August 13, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

And one might wonder why I fled the Netherlands. :-)

Oranjes is a hard to pronounce word. Ask my kids. The e is silent and so it is not pronounced as yes. The last three letters rhyme with bus. Well more or less.

Posted by: Lex Poot | August 13, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Pile on: Great stuff, from you and your subjects. These young men and Mr. Ahlm are, thus far, the real champions of these Olympics.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | August 13, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Finally, an Olympic story I can enjoy!

Having only met a few, I know it doesn't carry a lot of weight, but I've never met a Dutch person that I wouldn't want to hang out with.

Posted by: Goat | August 14, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

An odd little culture. Big on drugs, prostitutes, racism. Founders of Apartheid. Destined for further shrinkage.

Posted by: Jack Steen | August 15, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Here's my 1.5 Eurocents on the pronounciation of Oranjes: oh-RUN-yus, oh as in "O, Dear", RUN as in "TaDoRunRun", and the u in yus sounds like the one in "just". Cheers from Scheveningen, The Netherlands.

Posted by: Rick | August 15, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

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