2016-08-01 10:50:00 CET
More than sports: One last major triumph
After this season finishes the legendary Reinder Nummerdor will retire from beach volleyball – but before he does that he is hoping for his first podium at the biggest sport event of the world.
When playing Reinder Nummerdor is totally focused. On Sunday, the national player from the Netherlands scored 20 times against the Grimalt cousins from Chile and won with partner Christiaan Varenhorst in two straight sets in his first match at Copacabana beach (21-16, 21-13). “It’s not so easy, but if I play, I play,” he says. It is harder when I do nothing and just stay in my hotel room for the millionth time. Then I want to be home.”
For the fifth time now, Reinder Nummerdor takes part at the biggest sporting event in the world. Twice before he has been with the indoor volleyball team of the Netherlands and three times now as a beach volleyball player – that’s absolutely extraordinary. “It is the highest goal of an athlete,” says Nummerdor, who loves to compete. But since the middle of June, something even more important stepped into his life: three weeks ago, his wife Manon Nummerdor-Flier gave birth to Milou, the couple’s first daughter.
Reinder was on his way back from Gstaad Major when it happened. He witnessed the delivery through the speakers of his mobile, because he couldn’t make it in time. Now, he is in Brazil and misses the next development steps of his daughter. “It goes so fast in the beginning; they grow so quickly. You don’t want to miss anything,” he says. But he wants to stay another 10 days in Brazil to win his first precious metal at the four-year-cycle event.
A modern daddy
It would be the last big trophy for the 39-year-old. “It is 99.9 per cent sure, that I will quit after the season,” he says. “I still love to compete, but it is enough. I have been traveling as a professional for over 20 years now and all the traveling – and especially the training in the winter – is getting harder for me.” After the end of his career, Reinder is looking forward to spending some quality time with his family. “Maybe my wife is playing indoor again somewhere abroad, maybe in Italy, if she is getting a nice offer,” he says. “She might play for two more years and then we will go together and I will stay at home.”
Manon Nummerdor-Flier, 32, has been the opposite of the indoor national team for many years. She tried three times to qualify for the major tournament, and now, when the Netherlands made it for the first time since 1996, she has to stay at home with the baby. “For my wife, it is even more difficult, she never went there before. Here there is a bigger sacrifice,” explains Reinder. She couldn’t even head to the Copacabana to visit either. “We talked about it of course, but first of all, it can be dangerous with the flight, and I feel less worried if she stays at home instead of coming to Rio. I think for the baby it is better, too – and that’s the most important.”
Without partner to the Copacabana
Reinder’s partner, Christiaan Varenhorst, would have loved to have joined him on the plane last Tuesday. But Christiaan had a fever after the Klagenfurt Major, and he only arrived on Thursday. “That was important,” Reinder said and disclosed: “We were afraid that he wouldn’t feel fit for the first match. And then he played awesome.” Varenhorst scored seven block points. The 26-year-old is, by the way, the reason, that Reinder hasn’t already quit playing after the London Games, where the pair finished in fourth place. “It was a big disappointment,” he says. But, after a few months, he decided to continue. “I wanted to play with Chris in the beginning, but he played with Stikemma and they did really good. I said ‘if I cannot play with Chris then next year I quit.’”
The new couple started in 2014 and Reinder experienced his second spring. They won three tournaments in a row and silver at the World Championships on home sand. This year they had just two results not in the top 10. One was at Klagenfurt Major, where Nummerdor stopped because of a swollen knee. The other 17th place they achieved came at Copacabana Grand Slam in March but Reinder doesn’t think that will affect them this time. “Anything is possible. We can get to the podium or maybe we finish 17th.”
Reinder’s dream would be a first and last time on the podium. “It would be awesome to end my career like that,” he says.