Dutch Fans Invade 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."
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.
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