Never Give Up:
With No Lower Left Leg, Mother Of Three Saskia van den Ouden Keeps Winning Medals And Providing Inspiration At The Amsterdam Produce Show
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, November 14, 2017
Saskia van den Ouden
Q: A series of medals follow your trail. How did you get into sport?
A: For 6 years, I couldn’t walk because I had a problem with my leg. In 2010, they amputated my leg, and then I wanted to get on with my life and to get on with sports, because I was sitting in a wheelchair for 6 years and I really wanted to walk again.
Q; How did you get into the triathlon series specifically? Which is your favorite part of it?
A: First I started with a wheelchair sports, but it wasn’t for me. I really wanted to get out of the wheelchair, but I didn’t have the money to pay for a prosthetic leg for running. It’s really expensive. I didn’t have that money. I tried to win it with a game on the radio in The Netherlands. They collect wishes. People can submit a really beautiful wish, and if you win, they give you the money on the radio.
Q: Which is your favorite part of the triathlon?
A: Running. I don’t really like to swim. Running is the best part.
Q: Let’s talk about food. Do you think nutrition has a role in performance as an athlete?
A: Yes, it plays a big role. It’s really important to eat well before the game.
Q: What does your daily routine look like?
A: A lot of fruits. Pasta. Cereals. Muesli with a lot of milk. Yoghurt. For lunch, I’m eating mostly bread with a lot of fresh fruit and eggs, and chicken.
Q: And for dinner?
A: I eat everything but before a game I only eat pasta and oatmeal.
Q: Does the way you eat have a direct effect with the way that you play?
A: Yes, I have a lot of energy when I eat quite healthy.
Q”: Have you had any experience when you didn’t eat so healthy and it affected the way that you performed?
A: Yes, if I ate fast food I would not have as much energy as I have when I eat my normal food.
Q: What about for people who are not athletic, for example? What would you recommend are the key factors in keeping a healthy diet?
A: I would say, don’t eat too much. Don’t overeat. Try to eat different things, so that it’s not always the same. Have variety.
Q: What about specifically fruits and vegetables? Are there any fruits that give you more energy and that you eat more often?
A: Bananas. I eat them a lot. Avocados. Broccoli.
Q: When you go to the supermarket, what is important for you when you buy fruits and vegetables? Do the supermarkets inform you about what is organic?
A: It’s important that the fruits are looking well. In the supermarkets, they don’t really tell you much information. I know the information myself though. I mainly buy produce from the supermarket. The supermarkets are great here.
Q: What about cooking? Do you like to cook?
A: Yes I love to cook. I like cooking slow foods. For example, I put beef for a couple of hours on the fire. That’s really nice with a lot of herbs in it. It’s really good. It melts apart when you eat it.
Q: Do you like to go out to restaurants?
A: No. Oftentimes, I don’t do that in the season because I have a strict schedule, and I go to bed quite early. When I go out though, I take fish meals.
Q: Are you training at the moment? What is your daily routine?
A: Yes, I’m training now. Normally I start the day by going to swim for an hour, and then I go on the bike for 2 hours. I eat in between the practices. I also take sports nutrition, which has a lot of energy in it. It complements my diet. I also eat a lot of bananas and apples.
Q: I love bananas. They also make me happy.
A: Yes it’s true. Bananas are like chocolate. They make you happy.
Q: What is your advice for aspiring athletes? What is something you can give as a message to people?
A: Never give up. For example, this year in February I had to go to the hospital again. They cut my leg higher. They removed my knee now. So I went back to the hospital for 3 weeks, and everything was very uncertain because they didn’t know exactly the diagnosis. I lost my knee now, so I had to learn everything all over again. To walk, to run, to ride on the bike.
Q: It’s only been six months and you are training again. That’s amazing. You must have so much passion for this.
A: Yes, it’s everything to me. I really love the feeling of running. It’s amazing the feeling. It’s everything for me. The feeling of my body when I run. I feel full. When I run, I feel complete again. I’m feeling free. I’m so happy when I do that. I have a prosthetic leg and then when I run, I feel normal. I’m just like you.
Q: Yes, running is such a liberating experience. What are you training for right now?
A: I’m training for the triathlon again in April 2018. I’m really starting to learn everything all over again. My training isn’t that extensive right now. I run little distances. However, it’s going quite well now.