The Olympic internship in Belek is an excellent opportunity for weightlifter Nina Sterckx to come into contact with other sports. Sterckx is only 21 years old, but is already attending the internship for the third time.
“It’s always nice to be here. You notice that the stress among the athletes is starting to increase, especially when Olav (Spahl, delegation leader, ed.) mentions that the Games will be here in 7 months. Everyone is happy here. We are preparing well, which also creates a good atmosphere.”
Does she already feel that pressure towards Paris? “I’m certainly already feeling the itch. There is some stress, but just as much curiosity. I would like to participate in the Games and therefore want to make an extra effort.”
Because that qualification is not yet a certainty. Sterckx can actually participate in two weight classes. She can still place in both the category up to 49 kg and the category up to 59 kg.
“We have now chosen to participate in the upcoming qualifying competitions in the -59 kg. At the end we will see in which of the two I am hopefully qualified and then make a choice.”
“Last year at the World Championships I did well in the -49 kg, where I am now seventh in the world ranking. That gives me a good position in that category, hopefully I can now also perform well in the -59 kg so that we can I have a choice. Then I can choose where I think I can achieve the best results.”
What does she prefer to do? “Physically, both categories have advantages and disadvantages. To get below 49 kg I have to lose a lot of weight, but I know that I can perform in that.”
“The category under 59 kg is something new, it is easier that I can eat what I want and therefore recover better. The weights are a lot higher, which is a challenge for me both physically and mentally. It is also not It is clear to me how far I can get in that category this season. Building up strength takes time, we are in a kind of race against the clock.”
Sterckx ultimately has to make a choice, because participating in both categories is not an option.
“The deadline is at the beginning of May, but we want to make the decision earlier. The plan now is to decide after the European Championships in February, if I have to lose weight I can do that calmly. If I decide to stay in the -59 kg , I can then grow even more muscle mass.”
It was a busy season for Sterckx, who had little rest after a strong World Cup just over a year ago.
“It has been a great year, with ups and downs. I have made progress again. The previous World Cup was very good with 6th place under 49 kg, then I took a break and I also had a back injury that put some restrictions on my planning. messed up.”
“I then won a medal at the European Championships in the -59 kg, but I could not fully show what I was worth. Fortunately, things went well again at the World Championships this year, for the first time in the -59 kg a World Cup. That was quite a step.” She came 9th with a Belgian record.
Whether this step will be followed up at the Olympic Games in Paris remains to be seen. Sterckx finished 5th in Tokyo and can therefore dream of a medal.