Epke Zonderland & Koninklijke Gazelle. The level-headed Frisian gymnastics champion and the traditional Dutch bicycle brand. More than 18 months a successful combination. Epke is ambassador of the best-known bicycle brand of the Netherlands and cycles to the gym on his golden Gazelle every day. In pursuit of his dream: new Olympic gold.
How often do you think of 7 August 2012 – the day you became the Olympic Champion at the horizontal bar?
There are days that I don’t think about that day but it is and will remain impressive, obviously. Whenever the training is not going according to plan, I remember this event. It reminds me of why I’m doing it.
Why did you start with gymnastics?
Since I was four, you could find me in the gym, especially because my brothers Herre and Jonah, and sister Geeske were also there to practise. And my parents thought it was a good foundation for potential other sports…. Well, that turned out differently!
In 2014 you achieved one European and two Dutch titles. Did you win everything you wanted to win so far?
Yes, I think it is all going according to plan. I had two major targets this year, European gold and the World Championships. The first one is in the books, the second one is on track.
The next goal is the World Championship in China at the beginning of October. How do you prepare for this?
After the European Championship in Bulgaria, I slowed down for a while. I changed my training schedule from ten times a week to three times a week. That way, I could spend a little extra time studying medicine. I completed my internship and now have a full training schedule again.
Your list of achievements is already complete with your world title of last year: national, European, World and Olympic Champion. What is left to dream of?
As well as with “my” exercise, the horizontal bar, I would like to structurally belong to the top of the world at the parallel bars. And I dream of the Olympic Games in Rio. May they be as successful as the ones in London.
What do the days of a four times Athlete of the Year look like when he is not hanging from the horizontal bar?
What do you like to do? Apart from my study, I like to find the time for playing guitar, wind surfing, sailing and ice skating. I also like to watch sports on TV, so the quiet period during the World Championship Football was very welcome!
“At the Winter Games, I used the optimal means of transport”
Why are Epke Zonderland and Gazelle such a good match? Do you like cycling?
The Gazelle brand is down-to-earth and always looking for the highest achievable goal. Me, I am mainly a practical cyclist, I will use the bicycle for short distances. I used to have a racing bike, but that does not suit the explosive trainings I already do for gymnastics.
You have a Golden Gazelle. How do you like it?
I like it very much! At first, a lot of people turned their head when I arrived on the striking Golden bicycle. Luckily, that is better now. It is a light bicycle and easy to pedal. An ideal city bike.
What do you use it for?
I use it regularly to go to and from the gym. But also when I go into town. Another advantage: wherever I park the bike, I can always find it easily!
Last question: Rintje Ritsma and you are both from the Frisian village Lemmer. Who is the best-known Lemster?
Ha ha, you shouldn’t ask me that question. As a child, I always thought the world of Rintje, he was my hero. I mainly like the fact that we’re both from this small Frisian village.