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RHIJN Marlou
Sport Para athletics, Para swimming
NPC Netherlands   
GenderWomen
Age27
Place of BirthMonnickendam, NED
Human Interest
Impairment Information
Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
T62
Further Personal Information
Family
Partner Stefan Rusch
Residence
Purmerend, NED
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
Dutch, English
Higher education
Economics - Johan Cruyff University: Amsterdam, NED
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up Para athletics in 2010.
Why this sport?
She competed in Para swimming internationally until 2009, when she quit the sport to focus on studying. A year later she received a phone call from Guido Bonsen, a national Para athletics coach, who told her that her physical impairment and athletic ability made her suited to sprinting. She was initially hesitant, but after one training session she was hooked. "From the moment I tried on the blades I was sold. The sense of speed is awesome."
Club / Team
AV NEA-Volharding: Purmerend, NED
Name of coach
Keith Antoine [personal], GBR, from 2016
Training Regime
Her main training base is in the Netherlands, but she travels to England to train with her coach Keith Antoine at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough.
General Interest
Nicknames
Blade Babe (bp.com, 09 Mar 2015)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the T44 200m at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (paralympic.org, 06 Jul 2016)
Most influential person in career
Her family. (paralympic.org, 07 Jun 2015)
Hero / Idol
US sprinter Allyson Felix, US tennis player Serena Williams. (paralympic.org, 07 Jun 2015; NPC media guide, 20 Oct 2015)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I'm not an athlete at a high level because I feel like I have to prove myself. I do it simply because I enjoy it." (hierinwestfriesland.nl, 09 Jan 2013)
Awards and honours
She was named the 2016 Dutch Women of the Year by Harper's Bazaar magazine. (elle.com, 13 Dec 2016)

She was named the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year at the Purmerend Sports Awards in the Netherlands. (rodi.nl, 01 May 2017)

She was named the 2016 Para Athlete of the Year by the Dutch Athletics Federation. (nu.nl, 12 Feb 2017)

She was the flag bearer for the Netherlands at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (myinfo.rio2016.com, 06 Sep 2016)

She was named Sportswoman of the Year in 2012 and 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (supportmagazine.nl, 15 Nov 2015; sportprimeur.nl, 17 Dec 2012)

She won the 2013 International Paralympic Committee [IPC] Best Female Games Debut award for her performance at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (insidethegames.biz, 23 Nov 2013)

She was named the 2012 and 2013 Paralympic Athlete of the Year by the Netherlands Olympic Committee [NOC]. (nusport.nl, 17 Dec 2013)

In 2012 she was appointed Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau after winning gold at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (nyx.com, 01 Feb 2013)
Other sports
She competed in Para swimming until 2009, representing the Netherlands at the 2006 World Championships in Durban, South Africa. (atletiekweek.nl, 18 Dec 2012; knzb.nl, 08 Sep 2012)
Famous relatives
Her partner Stefan Rusch represented the Netherlands in Para athletics [T34 100m and 200m] at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. (Stefan Rusch Instagram profile, 28 May 2018; Instagram profile, 22 Apr 2018; paralympic.org, 2017)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (paralympic.org, 01 May 2017)
Impairment
She was born with a physical impairment in both legs. She is now a double below-knee amputee, having had her first amputation at age five and her second at age 11. (marlouvanrhijn.nl, 18 May 2015; frankjol.nl, 25 Aug 2012; dirkkuytfoundation.nl, 2012)
Other information
PROJECT BLADE
In October 2017 she launched Project Blade, an initiative to make running blades more accessible and encourage children with impairments to take up sport. "The joy of running is the same whether you need a pair of shoes or bionic legs to run. If we can educate the wider community about disability sport as well as giving children and young adults the tools they need to participate then I believe we will see numbers go up." (nrc.nl, 19 Oct 2017; marlouvanrhijn.nl, 18 Oct 2017; Facebook profile, 18 Oct 2017)

CHANGE OF COACH
In December 2016 she began training under the guidance of British coach Keith Antoine. "Working towards London 2017 and Tokyo 2020 I wanted to improve and have a coach who not only had an understanding of Para athletics, but who worked with athletes who had already won medals. I felt like I was missing something in the last two years because I felt I could go way faster, I've improved but I felt like I could improve more. Then Keith explained to me his ways of training and it just clicked. I thought, 'This is what I was missing.'" (paralympic.org, 01 May 2017)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
In September 2016 she was the subject of the Dutch television documentary Blade Babe, which focused on her life and preparations ahead of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In 2016 she was a contestant on the Dutch television show Maestro, which featured celebrities learning to conduct a musical orchestra. (lindanieuws.nl, 08 Sep 2016; paralympic.org, 02 Jul 2016)

Competition Highlights (historical)
Paralympic Games (Overall) - Para athletics
Rank Year Event Result
2 2012 100m T44 13.32
1 2012 200m T44 26.18
1 2016 200m T44 26.16
1 2016 100m T44 13.02
World Championships (Overall) - Para athletics
Rank Year Event Result
1 2013 100m T44 13.02
1 2013 200m T44 26.74
1 2015 200m T44 25.75
1 2015 100m T44 12.80
2 2017 100m T44 13.20
1 2017 200m T44 26.02
World Championships - Para swimming
Rank Year Event Result
24 2006 100m Freestyle S9 1:17.94
19 2006 400m Freestyle S9 5:42.00
21 2006 100m Backstroke S9 1:36.13
6 2006 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay 34 Points 5:12.18
European Championships (Overall) - Para athletics
Rank Year Event Result
1 2014 100m T44 13.18
1 2014 200m T44 13.18
3 2014 400m T44 1:01.88