Berkhout: ‘I found myself back in the boat’

In a series of thirty personal interviews with Olympic athletes, we count down to Tokyo 2021 with the CCeit Olympic podcast. Henry Schut and Jeroen Stekelenburg will visit athletes who are preparing for next years Olympic Games. In a personal conversation they will talk about life as an athlete and the preparation for the global event.

The guests are the crรจme de la crรจme of Dutch top sport, and in most cases also medal candidates in Tokyo. This week Jeroen Stekelenburg will talk to Lobke Berkhout, who is eager to fill her overcrowded trophy cabinet with Olympic gold.

The podcast recording will take place on Berkhouts boat, which she bought to introduce her daughter to water sports. Her daughter Belle was one of the most important reasons to start sailing professionally again.

She lies here regularly floundering behind the boat. Sailing, she is not very enthusiastic about that yet Berkhout herself is. The rumbling in such a harbour, theres always something happening, theres always something to see. I grew up with that. I realised that I felt like it again. And thats how the fun for racing sailing came about again.

Berkhout stopped sailing after the London Olympics in 2012. She had just won bronze with Lisa Westerhof. Four years earlier, in Beijing, she won the silver medal with Marcelien de Koning. She also holds five world titles. In 2013 she had a daughter, Belle, who is now seven years old.

In those six years after I said goodbye to water sports, I have realised that it is in my blood. I enjoy sailing competitions, the game. But also in the outdoors. Thats what I missed out on

In 2018, her new sailing partner Afrodite Zegers made a request: would she like to go to Tokyo with her in the 470 class? I missed the top sport. Going for a goal. Afro phoned me and then I thought: Wow this is a chance. I got to a point where I thought: what am I going to do for the rest of my life?

After London I had time to see my daughter grow up. I enjoyed that very much. At the moment that Afro called me I was working on a course. I asked myself the question what are your motivations, what are you going for? I thought I could do that now, or two years from now, and seize this opportunity. Thats what I did. I can say that I found myself back in the boat.

Gold is missing

Daughter Belle has an idea about the missing gold medal: The other day I took my medals out of the cupboard and put them on top of a scaffold. Then I asked: what do you think of it? She said: the only thing missing is a gold one. That is clear. Of course thats what Im going for, Berkhout said.