2 Aug 2018

Dutch Olympic open water champion Van Rouwendaal revels in chocolate pick-me-up

Dutch champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal shares what will be keeping her going as she goes for gold at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

A chocolate spread is what will fuel Dutch Olympic champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal in the 25km open water race in Loch Lomond.

The Rio 2016 marathon swimming gold medalist contests 5km, 10km and 25km, as well as the team relay, at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

Her first competitive race at the longest distance was at the 2017 World Championships at Lake Balaton in Hungary, where she finished second. Unlike the other distances, swimmers eat during the 25km event.

There was only one thing on Van Rouwendaal's mind as she sprinted for a podium place with her mouth full of melted chocolate.

"It was sooo good,” she said. "It was my first 25km and my coach said 'eat something you like' and I said 'Nutella and bread'. In the race I was thinking 'Sharon, at 7.5km you have Nutella, come on'.

"I told him I wanted a special surprise if I got to 21km. It was 37 degrees Celsius outside and the special surprise was chocolate.

"I put it into my mouth and it was like chocolate sauce. I was sprinting for (first or second place) and I had chocolate everywhere. I just remember the chocolate in my mouth.

"In the 10km we drink, in the 25km (at Glasgow 2018) it will be Nutella again."

Van Rouwendaal entered the 25km event at the World Championships three weeks after being diagnosed with glandular fever and after disappointing results in the 5km and 10km.

"I lost my strength and power (because of the glandular fever) so I went for the 25km because the speed wasn't so fast and I wanted to prove myself," she said.

Van Rouwendaal starts her campaign at Loch Lomond with the 5km on 8 August.

"In the first race I normally disappoint," Van Rouwendaal said. "Sometimes I have to disappoint (myself) to come back but my goal here is not to disappoint in the first race but to be in the competition for the first race.

"Everybody is asking me about the title. The most special is the 10km but for me I just want a European Championships title and don’t really care which one."