Zijderveld eyes 100m breaststroke triple

The Dutch European, and now world, champion is aiming for the title triple by adding Paralympic gold at Rio 2016. 12 Sep 2015
A Dutch swimmers celebrates winning gold at the 2014 IPC Swimming European Championships

Chantalle Zijderveld, just 13-years-old, won gold in the women's 100m breaststroke SB9 in a new European record time for the Netherlands at Eindhoven 2014.

ⒸKees-Jan van Overbeeke
By Abdullah Mahmood

“To be honest I like the pressure sometimes. It helps me to push myself to my limits and to prove myself.”

Dutch teenage swimming sensation Chantalle Zijderveld has one 100m breaststroke SB9 title missing from her trophy cabinet – and is determined to add the Paralympic gold to her collection at Rio 2016.

Zijderveld won the European title at home in Eindhoven in 2014 when she was just 13-years-old and added the world gold at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, in August. Now she is aiming for victory in Rio.

“After the European and World title it won't be a surprise I want the Paralympic title on the breaststroke,” Zijderveld said. “I will train as hard as I can to achieve that.”

Through winning in Glasgow, the talented youngster ensured that she will be one to watch but for Zijderveld it brought a mix of happiness and relief.

“It meant a lot to me. I've worked very hard towards the Worlds and all the hard work paid off. I was very happy when I saw the scoreboard after my race,” she said.

The relief was in part brought on by the fact that away from the pool she had to deal with all the difficulties that being a teenager brings, and is honest in her assessment that 2015 was not her best year.

“There were a few things which didn't turn out the way I hoped,” she said. “At my age you get faced with adolescent difficulties. I will make sure that won't be a problem this year and I will do things differently the coming year.

“On the other side I know that I became stronger and I made progress. I also reached my main goal, which was to get the world title, so that was quite a relief.”

And despite her age Zijderveld admits she enjoys the pressure even with the added expectations that her success brings.

“From the moment I became European Champion last year [2014] and I took the lead in the world rankings, I think people expected things from me this year, especially at the Worlds.

“To be honest I like the pressure sometimes. It helps me to push myself to my limits and to prove myself.”

Looking ahead to Rio in a year’s time Zijderveld can hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of making a dream come true by swimming at a Paralympic Games.

“Now that I have a chance to compete in Rio next year, I'm already looking forward to it. To compete in a Paralympic games has been my dream since I started Paralympic swimming. It would be a dream coming true.”

And while it was important to have a good World Championships this year, she and her teammates know that the Paralympic Games will be a whole different experience for everyone involved.

Zijderveld will get the chance to defend her European title at the last major competition ahead of Rio 2016 - the 2016 IPC Swimming European Open Championships in Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal, from 30 April – 7 May.