Won for Sjoerd

Tennis player Job van Eijk was crowned ACLO Athlete of the Year last Friday night. He dedicated the title to his deceased brother Sjoerd.
By Koen Marée / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

He thumps himself on the chest twice, kisses his finger and points it heavenward. ‘This one’s for you, junior.’ These are the words tennis player Job van Eijk ends his victory speech with. He has just been named ACLO Athlete of the Year.

In July last year, the 24-year-old van Eijk won the highly regarded TAM Open. This performance came after a difficult period. In early May he lost his little brother Sjoerd who went missing after celebrating his 21st birthday and was found a week later in the canal near the Trompkade.


In tennis, Job found an outlet to get his mind off things. He started training intensely and got in top form, which led to his victory at the TAM Open. At the ACLO Sports Gala he was vying for the title Athlete of the Year together with skater Esmé Stollenga and triathlete Edwin Dasselaar.

Huize Maas had been turned into Las Vegas for the occasion. People can take photos with a samba dancer and her muscular, shirtless male counterpart. Elsewhere in the casino, people take their chances at the roulette table. But one gamble no one will stake money on is who will win the Athlete of the Year award.

‘It’s been a real neck-and-neck race’, says Victor Koster, president of ACLO’s executive committee. ‘Especially between Esmé and Job. But the winner is Job van Eijk!’

‘I was honestly not expecting this’, Van Eijk says laughing, after everyone is done congratulating him. ‘Esmé is backed by skating association Tjas and they always vote for her. And I talked to Edwin about his performance: almost four kilometres of swimming, 180 kilometres of cycling, and then a marathon. Tennis is a lazy sport by comparison.’

Memorial for Sjoerd

The 200 euros that are part of the award will be spent on a memorial for Sjoerd. Together with his parents, Van Eijk has offered a social sofa, one of those stone mosaic benches, to the city.

‘Ever since I set foot on the court after his death, everything has been in his honour. I make that move with the chest thump, the kiss, and the finger in the air after every game. It’s the same thing that NBA basketball player Stephen Curry always does. Sjoerd loved basketball, and so do I. So this one’s for him. I know he would’ve liked it.’

The awards Sports Team of the Year and Trainer/Coach of the Year were also presented. The former was awarded to rowers Eline Feitsma and Ymkje Clevering, part of the coxless four that won bronze at the World Championships under 23. ACLO instructor Mayke Bosman was awarded the prize for best trainer/coach because of her enthusiastic and fanatical group classes.



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