Tokyo Calympian: Niki van Sprang, Rowing, Netherlands
van Sprang is another one of 5 first-time Olympians from the Cal Men's Rowing's 2016 national championship winning V8+ boat.
Another one of Cal’s 2016 IRA National Championship winning V8+ boat to become a first-time Olympian in Tokyo is Niki van Sprang. He will represent the Netherlands in Men’s Pair with partner Guillaume Krommenhoek.
Niki van Sprang
Event: Men’s Pair
Hometown: Almere, Netherlands
Olympic Appearance: 1st
Cal connection: Alumnus (‘16)
Cal accomplishments: 2016 IRA National Champions
Niki van Sprang qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the same Olympic Qualification Regatta as fellow Calympian Joachim Sutton and his Danish partner. In fact, the Dutch pair took first in that final ahead of the Danish pair.
That was technically the second time that Niki van Sprang had qualified for the Tokyo Games. He had qualified with a different partner back in 2019 but the Dutch coaches had a different idea for the boat lineups.
So that happend!🥇
That little golden rectangle is our ticket to the 2020ne Tokyo Olympics 😁
The path of qualification definitely hasn't been a straight line, but what is in life 😅 after @amoskeijser and I qualified the double back in 2019 and the coaches decided to replace us it seemed like my Olympic dream had hit a dead end. 😔
I was making myself ready for the role as a spare until @ggkrommenhoek came along and we decided on a new adventure in the pair 💪 together with @dionvschie (not just talented camera man but also our coach👌) we turned out to be a pretty good team, on the water aswell as of the water 🙏
Excited to get back to work with only 71 days left until the Olympic final🔥 because the real dream is not just qualifying but grabbing a 🥇🥈🥉 in 🇯🇵
But first a couple days off 😁
van Sprang is excited that so many of his Cal teammates will also be Tokyo Calympians. Below is his post about how his Cal coxswain teammate Julian Venonsky will be a US Calympian.
Everything in life is relative, sometimes you are a koala🐨 and sometimes you are a tree 🌴
In 2013 @julianvenonsky was facing me during my first race in the US, any followed until we finally won that national championship in 2016 🥇
Now another 5 years later we're both going to the Olympics, pretty epic 🔥
📸A crappy video Screenshot and @row2k
It has been a long journey but Niki van Sprang has earned the honor of being an Olympian.
In the men’s pair event, van Sprang and partner will be up head-to-head against a pair of his former Cal teammates on different pairs - Joachim Sutton as a part of the Danish pair and Martin Mackovic as a part of the Serbian pair. While the Serbian pair is probably the best bet to medal, the other two boats with a Cal rower should also contend for a spot in the A-Final.
Back to his final race as a Cal rower, van Sprang raced at the famed Henley Royal Regatta in the Four event in the summer after winning the IRA national title. He made a big noise in the rowing world when the Cal Four boat, with van Sprang and fellow Tokyo Calympians in Sutton and Hurkmans, crashed into a boom near the finish line. The Cal foursome was ahead before that crash. This photo of a surprised Niki was supposedly one of the most popular photos on row2k that year. He talked to row2k about that incident at the 2019 World Championships.
"It's been what, three years now, and it still comes up," Van Sprang said. "Like our coach, Mike Teti said, it's a better story than if you had won. The year before, I won the event with three other guys. Nobody knows that, but everybody knows about the crash. So, in that sense he was right."
For the back story to the day, Van Sprang said he was finishing his career at Cal and was rowing with an injured back and hoping to end his collegiate career on a high note when the crash happened.
"That was my last race for Cal, and that made it the most painful part probably. I wanted it to end on a high and I was actually racing with a herniated back on three Ibuprofen and two Paracetamol, I could barely feel my feet.
"I was just like, if I'm going to do this race, we're going to finish it off right. In the semi we rowed pretty badly, and I was yelling at the boys just give me one more day as a Golden Bear and they did. And in the final we were behind, it was like it's my last race do it for me and we almost did."
In addition to rowing, Niki van Sprang is also into biking and the outdoors. To raise awareness about saving the Oceans, he partnered with a Whiskey company where he biked and rowed from Amsterdam to the island of Texel. You can check out the video (with English caption) below.
Best of luck to Niki and his Dutch partner 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: Sat 24 July 2021, 8:30 - 12:30
Men's Pair Heats
Date and Time: Sun 25 July 2021, 9:00 - 11:40
Men's Pair Repechage
Date and Time: Tue 27 July 2021, 8:30 - 12:00
Men's Pair Semifinals A/B
Date and Time: Thu 29 July 2021, 8:30 - 11:50
Men's Pair Final A
Men's Pair Victory Ceremony