Otter about drama Van Ruijven: ‘Lived too short, but did what she wanted to do’

“It’s getting cloudy, cloudy, and finally it’s getting jet, jet black. No ray of light has come through. A nightmare“, says national coach Jeroen Otter about the loss of short track star Lara van Ruijven.

<27-year-old Van Ruijven died Friday evening of complications from an autoimmune disease. A barely comprehensible loss for her family and friends, and thus also for the national shorttrack team.

Otter looks back on unreal weeks, in which Van Ruijven’s situation continued to deteriorate. “Last Friday evening I visited her with a colleague. We were on the moped, couldn’t find the hospital at first. Lara was in an isolated ward. She saw us and brightened up completely. I had brought her a bag of licorice. Just take one, I said. She hadn’t eaten all day.”

Didn’t seem so bad

“We got to stay. Nobody sent us out of there. Eventually we left at 21.00 hours, I believe. I shot another movie for the athletes who didn’t go with me. To show that it didn’t seem so bad at all. Saturday night I got a message from her, that I only saw Sunday morning at 6.00 am. If I was already asleep. She was looking for contact. Just lay there on her own. That Sunday she had surgery late into the night and didn’t wake up again.”

Otter becomes emotional when he thinks of the image of Van Ruijven in a hospital bed. “There lies a 27-year-old woman, in the power of her life. She had to work so hard to reach that level. It wasn’t easy. She didn’t have a tattoo, but there was positivism on her forehead, so to speak. And then she’s lying there. I’m a father, too. Imagine your daughter lying there. That’s awful.”

Shovel under the ass