INTERVIEW: Ferry Weertman on life after Rio

Denzil Pinto 24/03/2017
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Ferry Weertman

Ferry Weertman might not be one of the most famous and recognisable swimmers just yet but he certainly is making a big splash in the open water competitions.

At just 24, the Dutchman has already been crowned European champion as well as winning silver at the World Championships in Russia two years ago.

But his best achievement came last August when he out-touched two-time world champion Spyridon Gianniotis in the 10km race to stand top of the podium with Olympic gold in Rio.

Not bad for someone who only made his international debut five years ago. We caught up with him after he won silver in the Abu Dhabi leg of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup.

It’s been seven months since you won gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games. How do you look back at the competition and the achievement itself ?

To be honest winning in Rio was a dream come true. It was something that I was working on for the last four years as it was one of those goals that I wanted to achieve since I started swimming.

It was simply amazing and it was a great event to be part of and went back home with memories I’ll cherish.

How much has your life changed since then?

Obviously with the Olympic Games being so big, it has had a big effect on me. Now everyone is asking for photos and autographs which is very nice.

At first it was a little bit weird but it’s good to see that people are looking up to you as their idol, which is a bit strange as I was the one who was idolising somebody else.

The Abu Dhabi race was your first competitive duel in the water since your Rio heroics, how pleasing is it to begin the 2017 season strongly?

My performance was very encouraging and although I didn’t win, to come second in a competitive race was fantastic. It sets me well for the World Championships in Hungary and that is something I want to win.

I finished second in the previous edition but to get gold there is something I have my sights on for this season.

The Netherlands have a vast history of producing some outstanding swimmers with Pieter van den Hoogenband being one. In Rio, Sharon van Rouwendaal also claimed the women’s 10km gold for the country so how big is the sport in Holland?

Without doubt, football is the biggest sport in the country but swimming is quickly growing. The success we had in Brazil has only raised the profile of the sport in attracting more people to take up the sport.

Four years ago, there were only two long distance swimmers but now there’s a team of six competitive ones so it shows the sport is on the up. With more competition, that in itself gets the best out of me because I enjoy those types of challenges.

You’re still in your early 20s but is there anything you want to achieve before you retire?

My main target is to win the 10km gold at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. To become the first person to win two consecutive golds in Olympic Games over the same distance would be an extraordinary feeling but there’s still a long way to go.

Ferry Weertman with his Gold medal.

Ferry Weertman with his Gold medal.

How did you get into swimmer and what is your training regime?

My mum used to take me to baby swimming classes and that’s where I got the feeling to being in a pool from early on. In terms of my training, I train 10 sessions a week which is around 30 hours in total per week.

I usually swim around 75 to 90km a week which is normal.

Who was your favourite swimmer growing up?

It was Maarten Van Der Weijden. He won the 2008 Olympic Games and was diagnosed with leukemia. But once he got the all-clear he continued swimming and that was very inspiring for me.

You also got the chance to meet Michael Phelps last year…

Yes, he’s a great swimmer who has won so many Olympic medals. It certainly won’t be possible for me to achieve as much as he has since there is only one 10km event in Olympic Games.

It was great to meet him. I’ve seen him so many times on TV and to see him in real life was a dream.

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Rahma becomes first Emirati to surf world famous wave at Mullaghmore

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UAE surfer Mo Rahma became the first Emirati to tackle the world renowned Mullaghmore wave in Ireland.

The 29-year-old pro surfer from Dubai, who is currently working with Etihad Airways in Dublin, rode the gruelling 30ft wave in County Sligo recently.

Situated in the west of Ireland, the infamous wave has attracted some of the biggest surfers in the world over the last five years.

And with Mo away from the warm shores of the UAE, he finally had the chance to test out Ireland’s premier big-wave surfing location.
“I was sitting in the channel watching the pros shred and having few wipe outs I was even more scared. But my heart was pumping and the rush was just going through my body,” said Rahma.



“When my turn came my mind just went blank and my heart raced faster and the smile on face didn’t leave my face six days after. It was the most amazing feeling and experience in my life.

“On my first wave I wiped out and it was painful but the second and third wave I rode all the way out, and now I’m super pumped and can’t wait for the next big swell at Mully.”

Mullaghmore has long been a hot-spot for so many of Europe’s big wave surfers, but for those outside of the sport, it is difficult to comprehend what makes it so special.

“It is just so unique wave that is big, barrels up, and heavy that a lot of big wave surfers loves it. There is no other wave like Mullaghmore as it has the shape, the size and the consistency of the swell,” added Rahma.


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IN PICS: EFG Bank Monaco claim fourth EFG Sailing Arabia title

French sailing star Thierry Douillard led his EFG Bank Monaco team to their fourth consecutive EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour title as the Arabian classic came to a thrilling climax.

Douillard's men sealed their victory in style by winning the final race of the event, a sprint around a short course that rounded off the Dubai in-port series.

EFG Bank Monaco began the two-week long, five-leg race around the Arabian Gulf as the hot favourites having won the past three editions.

The reigning champions dominated the podium throughout the tour, winning four of the five offshore stages and one in-port race series. But it wasn’t all plain sailing, Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA), the 2016 runners-up, threatened to usurp EFG Bank Monaco and when they crossed the finish line of the fifth and final leg from Doha to Dubai in first place it looked like a photo-finish was on the cards.   “It's a great feeling to win the regatta,” said Douillard, who led the team in place of injured long term skipper Sidney Gavignet. “We really deserved it – we've worked so hard over these last two weeks. “We had a major contest with Team Al Mouj Muscat the entire event and it was just the tiny details that made the difference. "We were fast upwind and downwind and in the end we had good control over the fleet. This was one of the best editions of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour for sure – we had wonderful conditions, brilliant legs around the Musandam Peninsula, and a great battle with Team Al Mouj Muscat. I think Sidney will be happy – for us it's a case of 'a job well done'.”   A third-place finish in the Dubai in-port series wasn't enough to elevate Team Zain (KUW) to the podium and they ended the regatta in fourth ahead of event newcomers Adelasia di Torres from Italy. Last year's third-place finishers Team Averda (GBR) had to settle for sixth, with Bienne Voile (SUI) in seventh and all-female crewed DB Schenker (GER) in eighth. A special prize-giving ceremony celebrating the achievements of the sailors and the success of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour will be held this evening. The awards was presented by Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, and His Excellency Dr Khalid bin Said Al Jaradi, Oman's Ambassador to the UAE.
Dubai in-port race series:
  1. Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) –  1 point
  2. EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 1.25 points
  3. Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 1.5 points
  4. Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 2.25 points
  5. DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 2.5 points
  6. Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 2.5 points
  7. Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 3 points
  8. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – DNS – 4.5 points
Overall results:
  1. EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard) – 11.25 points
  2. Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni) – 28 points
  3. Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu) – 31 points
  4. Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny) – 33.5 points
  5. Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara) – 43.25 points
  6. Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker) – 49.75 points
  7. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller) – 60 points
  8. DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes) – 62.75 points

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