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Maarten van der Weijden

Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer, Cancer Survivor

    Topics & Types
    Inspiration & MotivationAthletes & Commentators

    Maarten van der Weijden is a former Dutch long distance and marathon swimmer who won a golden medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 (open water swimming, 10km). In 2001 he was diagnosed with cancer (leukemia) and at one point he wasn’t expected to survive. After being in the hospital for half a year for chemotherapy, surgery, and a stem cell transplant, Maarten had the luck to recover and became a professional swimmer again.

    Maarten was in his childhood known as a promising swimming talent. As a teenager he participated at the 1999 European Junior Championships and at the 2000 Open Water World Championships. After his recovery from cancer, Maarten made his comeback in 2003. He won several Dutch titles and started swimming at international events as well. In 2004 Maarten swam across the IJsselmeer, collecting 50.000 euros for the Dutch Cancer Foundation.

    Maarten won a silver medal at the European Championships over 10km in 2006. In this year he moved to Eindhoven where he could train with Olympic Champion Pieter van den Hoogenband. Maarten intensified his training regime and started using light therapy and altitude training to increase his chances for success. During his comeback, Maarten set himself the goal to become World Champion one day and he fulfilled this dream when he won the 25km at the 2008 Open Water World Championships in Seville. At this event he also won a bronze medal at the 5km and became fourth at the 10km. The last result qualified him for the 10km open water swimming race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

    On August 21 2008, Maarten won the golden medal at the 10km in Beijing, narrowly edging out David Davies of Great Britain (2nd) and Thomas Lurz from Germany (3rd). After winning the gold, Maarten realized he reached the highest goal he could achieve in swimming and retired. He started giving inspirational speeches and wrote a book about his road to success. In 2010 Maarten started working as a financial manager for Unilever and is currently working for Unilever in Jakarta (Indonesia).

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    Location/Travels from: europe
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    $10,001 - $20,000*
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