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Since 2019, Anderson MacGyver has been supporting top rower Lisa Bruijnincx on her road to success. She recently competed for the first time at the European Championships in Hungary with the Dutch National Talent Team, and with the Olympic Games just around the corner, now is a good time to give an update on her achievements.

After winning the Junior World Championships, Lisa was looking for the next step in her sporting career. With this in mind, she signed up with Anderson MacGyver five years ago. A huge development followed on the sporting front, but in 2022 she ran into the ‘have to’. It was a big step and the Olympic team didn’t work out. Meanwhile, Lisa is back and has joined the talent squad to play her way into the spotlight of the Dutch senior team.

The European Championships

“It was very educational,” says Lisa of her first ‘real’ senior tournament last month. “So far I have been to two World Cups. You realize that these are senior teams are tough, but at a European Championship like this you realize that all the Olympic teams come prepared and well-oiled. They’re really at the top of their game and it’s impressive to suddenly be one of them.

The build-up to the European Championships was certainly not ideal. A teammate suffered an injury that prevented him from completing the final training sessions. “As a team we were able to deal with it and mentally we were able to handle it well. But in a first race it is important to be in sync and this was the first time we were in the boat together. Then you notice, on the field it goes hard, the opponents don’t wait. It was quite a reality check.

There is a lot to learn on the standard two-kilometre distance, and the subsequent races at the European Championships showed a lot of progress in the Dutch talent pool. “It was very brave to see that we could do it with this team. We made up seven seconds per race. On Thursday we were 14 seconds behind the Polish team and in our last race we beat them. These margins are not normal, but that was our growth in the tournament.

While the Dutch senior team is working on a different programme for the Olympic Games, the junior team has been in action. Among the other countries, it was the Olympic teams that were making the final preparations for Paris. “It is very cool to be able to compete with them. The Netherlands have actually decided that no competition is important except the one they are training for and that is the Olympics. The European Championships didn’t come out during that period. For us as a talented team, it’s just a learning tournament.

Olympic Games

Lisa will therefore not be able to participate in her original goal, as she does not have a place in the boat for this summer’s Olympic Games. “This summer I don’t find it ‘painful’ to follow. There are a lot of girls I look up to who can sail very hard. It has certainly been confrontational, because of course there is a little voice of ‘imagine if you had been there’, but I also appreciate all the effort and commitment the athletes have put in. I can only hope for a lot of medals for them.

Slow down and connect

The 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles are circled on Lisa’s calendar. But she had to take a step back to see if that was still her goal. “It’s still a goal. Over the past year I’ve taken a hard look at myself to see if this is really what I want. By distancing myself from rowing, I have actually found the joy again and decided that this is something I really want to devote time to in the coming years. It is difficult to look at an Olympic cycle in four years, but I am sure I will be in the team next year.

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