Event participant at Taekwondo at European Para Championships
Aug 14 2023

‘As a child I was already in love with taekwondo’

Gerard van den Berg is the very first Dutchman ever to achieve the 9th ‘Dan’, making him the highest graded Dutch Taekwondoka. With great pleasure he is a guest at the European Para Championships in Rotterdam Ahoy. “I see very good fighters at these European Para Championships.”

Besides Gerard, Jafar Zareei also holds a 9th ‘Dan’. This makes these gentlemen the only two in the Netherlands with the highest degree in taekwondo. Gerard had to take years of exams to achieve this achievement. “I have always continued with the sport I fell in love with as a child. I have played a lot of matches and have also been on the Dutch team.” To take exams for a higher ‘dan’, you have to wait a certain amount of time. “I always said then, when my body allows it I’m going to do exams again.”

‘Good fighter seen’

When Gerard van den Berg received an invitation to Ahoy he did not hesitate for a moment. “Turkey really showed themselves today here in Ahoy. They were really very good. I saw very strong fighters.” The big differences between regular taekwondo and Para Taekwondo are the main scores. “In regular taekwondo you are allowed to make head scores. So then you are also allowed to kick the head. In Para Taekwondo, you are not allowed to do that.”

‘I will definitely come back’

“I will also definitely come back to watch the next few days. Because per weight the level also varies a lot. The weights that I myself used to compete in I always really like to see. The upcoming days the level is only going to get higher here in Ahoy.” Besides taekwondo, he will also be watching Wheelchair Basketball and hopefully handing out medals again. “I’ve never handed out medals before. I have at smaller championships, but not at an event as big as this one today. The gleam in the athletes’ eyes as you hang a medal around their necks is truly amazing and what I used to be fortunate enough to experience a lot as a player.”

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