Arjen Robben is good friends with Sven Kramer. The 35-year-old skater led the individual five kilometers at the Beijing Olympics for the last time in his career on Sunday and finished ninth in that distance. Kramer ends his career after the Olympics, in which he also competes in the team pursuit. Robben counts on the show Peking Study of the US about the similarities he has with Kramer.
Robben is asked how he became friends with Kramer. “For the passion for the sport. I don’t like to compare athletes, but we have something in common. I can put myself very well in his shoes and that is why the contact has grown so much over the years”, says the former attacker. “Our greatest interface? That pure drive, getting the most out of it and wanting to be the best. That is the best way I can put it.”
“He has shown for so long that he is the best, I think that is unique. I have also seen examples around me of people who could have been more talented, but you have to make the most of it every day, be critical of yourself and pay attention to detail. That requires a certain discipline,” continues Robben. Host Dione de Graaff cites that both Kramer and Robben “don’t know how to stop”. “In his case, there is always a new tournament and then you want to show that you are the best.”
“That’s also very difficult,” emphasizes Robben. “I think it’s silly that you have to stop at your peak, an athlete has to feel and determine that for themselves. It is very easy to stop at the peak of it. I was in contact with Sven a few days ago and told him to enjoy himself, have fun. From the outside it’s easy, I know how that is. But his career is over, there is such a big bond around him. He no longer has to prove anything to anyone. Now he is ninth, there was no more. It is what it is, he said so himself.”
“You are a pure enthusiast, you don’t see it as your job. But if your passion and your hobby, you do everything for that. I think it’s good to see and then I think it’s great if you show it for so long,” Robben says. He knows Kramer hasn’t had it easy lately because of physical issues. “I’ve had that too, so you know what someone has to to come back and take advantage of that level. There’s so much work involved that the outside world doesn’t get much out of it. You do everything you can to look fit from the start.”
“It’s frustrating because you’re doing everything you can. You do everything in your power, only certain things are out of your control. So sometimes it has to be fine, but sometimes the body sizzles so much you can’t get what’s in it out,” Robben says of the physical issues that finally forced him to end his career last summer.
“It’s also giving things away, because there are similarities,” Robben says of his relationship with Kramer. “He is a nice, funny guy and I wish him the success he deserves. Nothing to the detriment of other Dutch athletes. If you perform at your best and win a lot, sometimes you lose something. Things also go wrong at crucial moments, that’s part of the sport. When you experience something like this, you can enjoy the victories that come after.”
Thanks in part to Kramer, Robben may one day be able to take part in an Eleven Cities Tour, as he is a member of De Friesche Elf Steden. “I needed two recommendations for that. And the men were very kind to comment – he goes a long way in character,” says Robben. “I used to skate a lot of miles in the canals around Bedum. But that’s going to be a pain. reach that goal.”