My name is Tim de Vries. I was born in 1978 in the OLVG hospital in the eastern part of Amsterdam. I am the proud father of three children and married to Maaike. At a young age I made a choice for gymnastics instead of soccer, but when I discovered the trampoline somewhere in ’94, I was sold completely to this beautiful sports and made a switch to what should become an Olympic discipline in the year 2000. In ’97 I was selected for the so called A-class to participate for the national championship (NK). While preparing for this event I was struck by an ill-fated tragedy. During pauses between the competition we played some games like jumping as high as possible. That certain occasion I reached the ceiling (5 or 6 meters high!), lost balance unnoticed and came back to earth on one leg, which shattered completely. My nerves were ruined and I had an arterial bleeding on top of it, that was stopped by my girlfriend (Maaike) and a girl that just finished her First Aid course. They saved my life and from that moment I decided to concentrate on my possibilities instead of my limitations. People warned me for a setback but this still has to come after so many years!
First I stayed close to the trampoline community, was a trainer even, while trying some other things to keep fit, till I came across rowing in 2003. With some modifications I could find a seat there, but after classification I was destined to be part of a foursome (Skif was impossible). That meant that I was relying on three other people to achieve my paralympic dream. In 2010 this seemed impossible to me so I went looking for another individual sports and found out about handbiking, a paralympic sports as well.
Doing sports was always the main factor in my life and the first movements with handbiking where promising ! I went to Papendal, got registered with the KNWU and started to practice. A certain talent brought me succes, helped by the fact that my father had been a cyclist himself! Within a year I received the A- status from the NOC-NSF after participating on the World Championship. My full time job as a busdriver changed to a parttime job, because now I became a full time top athlete!
I missed The Paralympics in London 2012 by about a quarter of an inch, which was good considering the stage of my development then, I guess, but in 2013 and 14 I won medals at the World Championships. And although 2015 became my most successful year till date (with winning the worldcup competition), I disappointed at the World Championship and ranged just fourth, so didn’t qualify for the Paralympics of 2016.
“You can imagine my reaction after a phone call of the national team coach that yet I was allowed to go to the Games after an honoured wildcard and based upon my results of the previous year?“Tim de Vries
I will never forget that day! It was May the fifth, birthday of my mother, so we made a double party where I literally jumped around! I experienced the whole preparation as in a bubble, fixed and focussed on my discipline with a training camp trip to Portugal. The actual arrival in Rio was like in a dream. So many disabled athletes (4500) all coming for gold in their own Paralympic village. So many impressions you can hardly bear! Supported by my family that came over I ranked to fourth place in the time trial and after a breakdown on the road race to the eigth spot. Of course I was disappointed at first not to have won any medal, but while returning to Holland in an orange plane, assisted in the national airspace by two fighter jets, you realize you were part of a mission unique in a lifetime.
Back on Dutch soil, I picked up again with daily life, being part of an extending family and returning to the routine I used to know so well. A slightly little loss of sportive motivation came to an end when I met Wesley Kalkhoven (owner of Calisthenics _Amsterdam) in 2018 through Instagram. It was my first encounter with Calisthenics, which brought me a new impulse, lots of new energy and techniques. Especially training of certain small muscle groups intensified my possibilities next to a change of gym, The Vondel Gym in Amsterdam.
Calisthenics had proven itself as an added value with specific training methods for several Olympic and Paralympic sports already, but on its own, as an independent sport, it earns an Olympic/Paralympic status, in my opinion. In my case practicing Calisthenics worked out wonderwell for my handbiking. The magic word? Control! No more injuries, challenging diets, joy! And on top of that three times in a row World Champion on the road! Calisthenics is addictive and if they would invite me to be an ambassador for this great sport after my active career as a handbiker, I would be honored.
For now, in these severe times, I practice at home, take care of my kids (my daughter made her First handstand!) and cherish my ambitions winning gold at the Paralympics of 2021 and eventually aim at Paris 2024. After that we will see, but being part of the expanding Calisthenics community is a fine perspective.
Last thing that I have to say is that freedom is in your head. As long as you do the things you like, related to better physics and mentality, you’ll be a happy person. Calisthenics can be the most perfect guide to that achievement!
Author: Maurits P.