It’s been almost two years since we’ve seen the mighty Dutchman Rutger Smith in the competition circle. The 33-year-old winner of twenty-seven national titles in shot put and discus throw has shown in mental fitness. He also won no less than najor seven medals at European and World Championships. In 2013, however, he tore his Achilles tendon twice, resulting in a long rehabilitation schedule. 2015 will be the year of his comeback. We asked an eager Rutger Smith a couple of questions.
How are you? Have you spent the holidays in the Netherlands or the US?
Everything is good here! I have spent the holidays in the US. Last summer I was in the Netherlands for a couple of weeks. This (winter) period is very important for the upcoming season. These are the months to build a strong training base. So I stayed in Newport Beach during Christmas.
How do you feel physically now?
Very good! Very pleased with how I feel. Physically no complains. Had a great summer training wise. After my second Achilles surgery (October 2013) my coach, Tony Ciarelli, and I decided to take time for my comeback. I didn’t want to chase anything. Therefore I trained smart. Started all over again at the base, with strength, endurance and technique.
You knew that 2014 was a year of rehabilitation, how do you look back on it now?
In retrospect, the year flew by … last January, I could barely walk normally. By the summer I was already throwing hard, doing full turns and for several months now I do all my strength exercises with full force. Because I built up my whole body from scratch in a gentle way from January to April I got a boost during the summer months and now I feel super fit after three months (October, November and December) of heavy training.
How do you look back on the performance of the other Dutch athletes in 2015?
That was great of course! Nice to see that the sport is doing great in the Netherlands. But… where were the Dutch men… no international medals? It’s time I make my comeback I think.
Do you still have ‘disability’ in training or are you fully taxable?
Fully taxable! Physically and mentally no inhibitions. To be honest. Mentally it has been tough. Especially the first few months after the second surgery. An Achilles tendon rupture is just a very serious injury. That does something to you. But Dr. Heyboer from the Erasmus MC told me that when the whole rehabilitation process goes well I can come back 100%. Those were obviously encouraging words.
Did you, even though they are not as good in your disciplines, see the ARD documentary on doping abuse in Russia?
Russians are not so good at throwing? That’s the first time I hear that. Have certainly seen it! No surprise … I think most people already knew. I certainly did after being around for fifteen years; and it is not only Russia, they could have made a documentary like that in many other countries. Well it is proven now! I am very curious what they will do with it. And whether they have already contacted the witness. Because there was a very soft response by a specific anti-doping agency.
If they don’t do anything with this case then the sport world should serious think whether they should legalize doping. You kill two birds with one stone, you are also done with the corruption. I am absolutely against doping, in any form, but I am thinking out loud! The pursuit of a clean sport appears to be a fairy tale. This is proven over and over again. In track and field there is still a sprinter around who had to be banned for life many years ago. The drugs is too deep in the vains of the sport, on every level; athletes, high ranked people of sports federations, governments… How do we make the sport clean? More money for drug testing equipment? So when someone is caught with a particular drug, the scientists change a molecule of the substance wherefore it is not a banned drug anymore? Or retest samples years later, find performance enhancing drugs and find out who gets which medal?
And let’s be honest; will world records be broken week after week? Of course not, most world records are already set with doping. You probably get a slightly wider top and the small percentage of the world elite athletes who are “clean” now will be the athletes to beat.
And no, richer countries are not in favor. Look at the statistics of the number of doping cases over the years. The ‘poorer’ countries are on top of the list. For the athletes in such countries it is a way out and a chance of a better life. For the country itself the athletes are wonderful role models. The hunger for money, status and power reigns.
What we, the people who strive for a clean sport, really need are people with pure passion for the sport. Young ex-athletes. Who should be supported to occupy senior positions in the mayor sport agencies. Only then there is a chance that the fairy tale becomes reality.
I saw on your Facebook you used ‘# Beijing2015’. What are your expectations and goals for 2015?
I obviously want to make a great comeback. And I actually think unlimited. I do not see why I should settle for less compared to two years ago.
What are you looking forward to?
The moment I throw the Dutch discus record (done using PEDs) , and when I am standing on the podium in Rio (with or without Russian participation).
Now you have not done comps for a long period of time. What did you miss the most about it?
The adrenaline, the willpower to throw far, and then do it.
If we assume that out of all what you experience something positive flows. Did this bad injury brought you something positive?
Always, mentally I am stronger then before. And the desire to return and succeed is higher than ever. I love my sport and to train. This ensures that I actually will comeback.