Tokyo Calympian: Maarten Hurkmans, Rowing, Netherlands
The Cal alum is one of the few out bisexual male Olympians
Not counting coaches and reserves, we have just under 40 “Tokyo 2020” Olympians that are either Cal alumni or current student-athletes for this summer’s delayed Olympic Games. I will attempt to profile each of our “Calympians” before the games get underway on July 23rd.
Since it is still June AKA “Pride Month”, the first Cal alum to be featured will be Dutch rower Maarten Hurkmans, a key member of the most recent Cal Men’s Rowing national champion crew in 2016, who came out as bisexual in June of 2020.
Hometown: Amersfoort, The Netherlands
Olympic Appearance: 1st
Age: 23 (August 29, 1997)
Cal connection: Alumnus (‘19 Business Administration from Haas School of Business)
Cal accomplishments: 4-year starter on Cal’s Varsity 8 boat, including a Pac-12 and IRA national championship in 2016, his freshman year
One of Cal’s non-swimming Olympic medals from Rio 2016 was when the “Holland 8” won Bronze with Calympian Olivier Siegelaar on that crew. Hurkmans will look to replicate if not improve on that finish in Tokyo.
Hurkmans helped the Holland 8 crew to an Olympic berth way back in the fall of 2019 when they took 2nd at the World Rowing Championships. After winning a Gold with the Dutch U23 team in 2016, Hurkmans made the senior team in 2018.
In 2021, it is still notable that Maarten Hurkmans is a bisexual athlete. Hurkmans made the announcement via Instagram during Pride Month of 2020.
From his Instagram post in 2020:
Are you your unapologetic self? ⠀
Everyone that knows me will say that I’m very unapologetically me. I have a clear presence, you can always read my mood straight of my face, and I can be the absolute worst morning person. I am also bisexual, something that I consider to be an important part of who I am.⠀
For many people, sexuality is not something to consider much. However, for many LGBTQ+ people, a lot of time and anxiety can go into discovering, accepting and reconciling themselves with their sexuality. I am very lucky to have been brought up by amazing parents in an open and accepting environment, and luckily, I have never experienced my sexuality as much of a burden. Not everyone shares my experience though. ⠀
It can be hard to come out, especially in sports. Not many elite athletes identify as LGBTQ+ and there are few role models to look up to and show that it doesn’t matter and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am 2.01m, 110kgs, proud of who I am, and I row at the elite level. To many, I do not fit the stereotype, but I do want to be an example to anyone that feels like they can’t be their true self.⠀
Identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community does not make you less masculine, or able to compete and win. In the end, we all line up at the same starting line with the same anticipation as we endure those final minutes before the start. Equally tense and ready for the green light. ⠀
It is cool to see that Maarten is comfortable with his own sexuality and is willing to use his spotlight as an Olympian to represent the LGBTQ+ community. As he stated above, he has been lucky to be raised by accepting parents that his sexuality never held him back. His story is one of optimism on what the world could be when everyone can find love and support regardless of their background differences. Hopefully, more and more people in that community are now raised in a similarly inclusive environment to what Maarten had, so that they too can grow up and thrive in whatever they choose.
A winner of numerous academic accolades, Maarten was featured during his sophomore year by a Cal Athletics article about him balancing the crew training with the academic.
"My biggest challenge at Cal has definitely been juggling academics, rowing, and rest," said Hurkmans. "Our team trains very hard all year round. To follow along in demanding courses and perform every day on the water is hard, while also trying to get the rest I need to do these things."
But like most of Cal's student-athletes, Hurkmans has used the resources at his disposal to hone his time management skills. He also credits his coaches and teammates for creating a culture of excellence.
"Our coaches, although focused on rowing, truly want us to do well in school and set a great example," Hurkmans emphasized. "The team is very focused on rowing and on our classes, and everybody supports each other."
Though only a sophomore, associate head coach Scott Frandsen, an IRA Champion at Cal and graduate of the Haas School of Business himself, recognizes the impact Hurkmans has already had on the program.
"Maarten is one of those student-athletes that you don't have to worry about," Frandsen explained. "He is self-motivated with his academics and with his training. He provides the example for others on the team to follow and raises the level of our team in all aspects."
Since graduating from Cal in 2019, Hurkmans had moved back to the Netherlands to train with the Dutch National Team which is sponsored by Red Bull. Just like his role on the Cal Varsity 8, Maarten Hurkmans is in the 5th seat on the Holland 8 boat as well.
Best of luck to Maarten and his Dutch teammate in Tokyo!
The men's rowing event at the Tokyo Games is scheduled for July 23-30 on the Sea Forest Waterway.
Date and Time: Sun 25 July 2021, 9:00 - 11:40
Men's Eight Heats
Date and Time: Wed 28 July 2021, 8:30 - 11:40
Men's Eight Repechage
Date and Time: Fri 30 July 2021, 8:45 - 10:55
Men's Eight Final A
Men's Eight Victory Ceremony