Zijderveld targets first Paralympic medal

The Dutch swimming world champion seeks to win gold in the 100m breaststroke at September’s Paralympic Games. 06 Jul 2016
Three women in training suits on a podium

Chantalle Zijderveld, the Netherlands, at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships.

ⒸLuc Percival Photography. All rights reserved.

“My goal is to swim faster and improve on my personal bests. And hopefully in Rio fulfil my dream of becoming a Paralympic champion.”

Chantalle Zijderveld became the one-to-beat in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB9 after winning gold at the World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, last year, and believes there is more to come when she makes her Paralympic debut at Rio 2016.

The Dutch swimmer, who holds the world record of 1:16.69, also sealed the European title last May, confirming she will be the overwhelming favourite to claim gold in Rio.

“Winning the Paralympic title in the 100m breaststroke SB9 would be a dream come true,” said Zijderveld.

“I want to reach Rio in my best possible shape and return home with some medals. However, I mostly want to challenge myself, show everyone what I can do and swim faster than ever.

“The Paralympic Games will be an amazing experience. I competed at World and European Championships, but the Paralympics will be different. I want to perform the best I can and enjoy.”

Zijderveld will face a hard race from Great Britain’s London 2012 bronze medallist Harriet Lee and China’s Asian record holder Meng Zhang.

“Lee will be a tough opponent and Zhang can do well too,” she said.

The 15-year-old also plans to participate in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley and the 4x100m medley relay 34 points.

New Zealand’s six-time Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Pascoe and Canada’s two-time world champion Aurelie Rivard will be among her main rivals.

“They have won lots of medals and are amazing swimmers,” said Zijderveld.

“Even though I want to compete in many different events, the 100m breaststroke is definitely my strongest one and my favourite. I also feel good in the 50m freestyle, where anything can happen.”

Zijderveld got hooked on swimming when she volunteered at the Eindhoven 2010 World Championships, at nine years old.

“I was young back then and thought ‘wow, this is pretty awesome’, and that is how I began my swimming career,” she said.

“Three years later, I was competing at my first Worlds, in Montreal, Canada, an absolutely overwhelming experience. The atmosphere was awesome, I enjoyed it a lot and it gave me good experience for the following events.”

In 2014, Zijderveld won her first major title at home at the European Championships in Eindhoven.

“I think being young is an advantage because once you get older, it is more difficult to keep improving,” she said.

“Now I am young and full of energy. I always want more and enjoy swimming with extra pressure for being a world record holder and world champion.

“My goal is to swim faster and improve on my personal bests. And hopefully in Rio fulfil my dream of becoming a Paralympic champion.”


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.

Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.