(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Mark Caljouw: I want to be the best version of myself
Date: 7/19/2021 4:11 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez (BEC)
The men’s singles player will be representing the Netherlands in the upcoming Olympics. Here is what he had to say about his latest performances and his goals for the event.

The 26-year-old player has managed to qualify for the Olympics. It is quite a feat considering how highly competitive the period leading up to the event is. Mark Caljouw knows his strengths and weaknesses and aims at delivering a showstopping performance.

The proudness to represent your country
Caljouw has been seeing giving it his all in important European and international tournaments. Everyone has been fighting for those points in the Road to Tokyo, and Caljouw sees room for improvement in his performance but knew it was good enough to be getting on that plane to Tokyo to represent his country.

-It was mentally tough but in general I got some good results, and it is good that I played all the good tournaments. To be honest, all the others who were behind me, I did not think that they could catch me with the points that I already had. Before COVID-19 came, I think I was doing pretty good, Caljouw explained.

The criteria to qualify and represent some countries can be strict, and Dutch athletes know this. It can be quite a challenge, but Caljouw has never seen it as a problem and rather sees it as an opportunity to be even more motivated to outdo himself.

-The standard in the Netherlands is quite high and I like that in a way. I feel really proud to represent The Netherlands and they already helped me a little bit. You never know how things will go, so they also see it is quite hard in the badminton world for a player coming from the Netherlands. They made it a little bit easier to qualify. We made it and I am quite proud of that, Caljouw said.

Performing well in the biggest sports stage in the world
It is true that many tournaments have been cancelled due to the pandemic, but players have still had many chances to prove their worth in the past year. Caljouw reflects on his most recent appearances on court.

-To be honest, I think I came out quite good of COVID-19. The qualification was quite tough, but I think I stepped up my game, I changed some things in my game, and we are still not where we want, but we are improving. All England was a really good tournament for me, and it gave me confidence. Towards the Olympics, I feel like I am standing quite good there, I feel really fit, ready to go and give it all.

A good example of a good result in his career is his performance at this year’s All England Open. After winning straight games against Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab and Irishmen Nhat Nguyen, he beat Lakshya Sen after a tough three-game match to face Lee Zii Jia in semifinals. He lost after two sets, but it was a great tournament for Caljouw.

-For sure, I am realistic that not everybody was there and I can also see that my standard is not to a semifinal at the Super 1000 every time. Still, to make it there with some really good players, I played some really good matches. I showed a good level and that gave me a lot of confidence. My ranking is now around 30 and I believe I can go higher than that. That is also my goal, Caljouw stated.

If there is something noticeable from Caljouw’s performances is that his highs are really high, but his lows can also be really low. This has been a focus for the singles player who has been working hard to improve and avoid hitting those lows.

-We talked about it with the mental coach and also with my own coach. We just have to keep going with the tactic that we have. I play an amazing game, eight rallies, and I can drop down six rallies in one minute. I can make things hard for my opponents, and if I can keep on doing that, then I can get really good results. That’s the biggest challenge for me, to show that I am ready for that at the Olympics. I believe I can do good things over there.

A good and experienced players knows well his strengths and weaknesses, and Caljouw has learnt from them. He knows he can give some great performances, but he is also realistic about his chances in the Olympics.

-I want to go out of the pool. That also depends a little bit on the draw. I am not seeded, and it will be hard, but that is definitely the goal. It is easy to say, but I want to be the best version of myself. I want to show in the biggest stage in the world that I can play extremely well, that is also a goal for me.
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