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Dutch Abu Dhabi winner Juul Franssen in difficult situation
18 Jan 2017 10:05
At her birthday Juul Franssen is in one of the most difficult situation of her sporting career. The 27-year old winner of the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi in 2016 can't compete anymore sanctioned by the Dutch Judo Association. Her new car and her salary was taken away with immediate effect by the National Olympic Committee. Welcome in 2017...new rules.
Tight by the Dutch Judo Association, Franssen is not allowed to take part at international events as long as she doesn't stick to the programme to train centralised and stay at the Training Centre permanently. Franssen who wants to train at Papendal trainingcentre near Arnhem, can't live there due to her study that she has to finish within three years. Also her coach Mark van der Ham is out of the Judo Association coaching staff and back to De Korte as coach where many top athletes train.
Franssen was European Champion as Cadet, Junior, U23 and with the Dutch team she became European and World Champion. She switched weight successfully in 2015 from U57 to U63kg where she also took silver at the Grand Slam in Paris in 2015 and 2016 Masters in Guadalajara.
Franssen is not the only one in this position but at least one of the most appealing as latest winner of a Grand Slam and fifth of the last World Championships. Franssen is the unrivaled successor of Anicka van Emden who announced her retirement last week. Kim Polling is training in Italy with her friend and considers to compete for Italy. Noël van 't End who lives with Clarisse Agbegnenou can have a promising career in France where practically everything is arranged to compete for France. However the Dutch Judo Association can boycot athletes for a period of three years which was done before with 2013 World Junior Champion Do Velema who wanted to compete for Croatia previously and was not allowed to fight, she retired. Others such as Linda Bolder and Esther Stam did switch for Israel and Georgia in the time it was still 'allowed'.
Although it's the Judo Association executing the policy, it's the Dutch Olympic Committee that obliged the Association to move to Papendal's training centre. Previously other sports have centralised the training facilities successfully such as Handball, Athletics, Short Track and Gymnastics. Those sports nowadays excel. However the conditions are tight for judo. Under the NOC the budget for the association was even increaed while the performances were below the the expectations in Rio with just one medal for Van Emden. Other top athletes did make the change and moved to Arnhem and enjoy the facilities at the Training Centre. Different kind of opinions and situation make the choices difficult.
After Franssen, also Roy Meyer and Marhinde Verkerk may get into the same situation. Dex Elmont also retired after Rio2016. Henk Grol does train in Papendal twice a week but doesn't live in Arnhem as he doesn't have an ambition for Tokyo2020. Franssen was the most clear in her Tokyo ambitions. The conflicts continue but Franssen is the first athlete where the negotiations stopped which is a situation hard to understand internationally with the Grand Slam of Paris approaching in February.
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