Fingers crossed for Belgian rowers at The Olympics

BELGIUM (HQ) – The Belgian rowers Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe, who are being supported by Christeyns, will participate in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Their first race will take place on 24 July. Let’s take a look at everything – from their preparation for The Olympics to what Tim and Niels are doing with our support.

The duo Belgian rowers will row the 2,000 metres in the lightweight double sculls, the lowest weight class where competitors take part in teams of two. We asked them how they prepared for this. Niels shares with us: “Unfortunately, we had to miss the European Championships due to Tim’s illness. Afterwards we had a flawless track record preparing for The Olympics. After the European Championships we completed a training camp in Italy to prepare for the second World Cup. There we finished in fifth place. Then we went on several training camps, both in Italy and Belgium.”

“We like to spend a lot of time in familiar surroundings,” Tim continues, “and so we choose training places that we have been going to for years. For our last training camp we went to Hazewinkel-Willebroek. We went with a team of young promising rowers to have some sparring sessions with them. On 7 July we left for Japan and now we are here in Itako completing our very last training camp before The Olympics.”

A day in the life

What is a typical day of training like for the rowers? They get up at 7 a.m. and have their first training session at 9 a.m. This is the toughest water workout of the day. After lunch they have an afternoon nap. A cup of coffee – Tim and Niels are big coffee lovers – prepares them for the second training session at 3.30 p.m., endurance training on the water or on the bike. They finish off by doing some stretching. Bedtime is at 10.30 p.m.

A race day looks very different. To give you an idea, we outline the schedule for 24 July, their first race day at the Olympic Games:

  • The alarm clock goes off four hours before the start of the competition.
  • Sweating on the bike without breakfast to lose the last of any water weight.
  • Niels and Tim leave for the rowing course two and a half hours before the race.
  • The duo is weighed two hours before the race. In the lightweight double sculls, the two rowers together cannot exceed an average weight of 70 kg. For the upcoming race this means Niels weighs 67.8 kg and Tim 72.2 kg.
  • After being weighed, eat immediately and rehydrate.
  • The warm-up starts one and a quarter hours before the race.
  • Tim and Niels are ready at their boat to get on the water 40 minutes before the race. Shortly before the race, they give each other a short pep talk.
  • The race, followed by cooling down and stretching – partly on and partly out of the water.
Strict training and nutrition

With such a strict daily schedule comes, of course, a set training and nutrition plan. The training schedule of Tim and Niels looks like this:

  • Training seven days a week, with two half-days of rest.
  • Twice a week they have three training sessions a day.
  • Every week they go running twice, have two long bike training sessions, two strength training sessions and one abdominal muscle workout. During the other training sessions, you will find Tim and Niels on the water in their boat.

Their nutrition plan is prepared in consultation with a dietician and is tailored to how strenuous the training sessions are. On the days with strength training, for example, they eat more protein than on other days.

Very occasionally, they may eat something not on the strict nutrition plan. Niels’ favourite cheat meal is … ice cream! And that can be any ice cream he has access to at that moment. Tim’s preferred cheat meal is syrup waffles. And when there is no nutrition plan? Then Tim’s favourite meal is homemade pizza with chorizo. Niels prefers homemade pancakes with jam or syrup.

Expectations for the Games

After all that preparation, we wondered how Tim and Niels feel about their first competition at the Olympic Games. They are completely ready for it! We would like to let them speak for themselves: “We are really looking forward to the Olympic Games. Thanks to our thorough preparation, we feel ready to get started. Over the past few weeks we have been fine-tuning things. There are no grounds for criticism and whatever the result, we have done everything to achieve the best possible result,” say Tim and Niels.

What does the future look like for the Belgian Rowers?

After the Olympic Games it will be time for Tim and Niels to take a well-deserved holiday. They will then enjoy some time without rowing (at least for a while).

Message for Christeyns

Niels and Tim gave us a personal message: “Thanks to your support over the past three years, we have been able to prepare ourselves even better. We have been able to organise additional training camps, provide additional recovery equipment and do so much more with your support. We are incredibly grateful to you for that. We look forward to representing Belgium at the Olympic Games. We are going to Tokyo with a lot of confidence and that is partly thanks to Christeyns.”

We wish Tim and Niels, our Belgian Rowers, every success at the Olympic Games and we will be keeping our fingers crossed for them!