Joris Otten’s Olympic dream

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Shared passion for boats

Two years ago, Joris approached Gielissen in Helmond with an Olympic dream and an exceptional request. ‘He asked if we could support him with the purchase of a boat’, explains Frank van der Pasch, commercial manager at Gielissen. ‘Joris is from Helmond, and he has a passion for boats, just like us. So it felt logical to jump on board.’

Red-white rocket

Joris’ canoe has been designed with the Gielissen logo in mind: a red-white rocket that is made for the water. In April 2023 Joris paid the teams from Interiors and Shipyard a visit to show off his new boat. ‘Thanks to the lighter weight, I can leap and bound ahead’, said Joris. 

And it didn’t stop with one boat. ‘Last winter we received a call from Pau in France, where Joris is training,’ explains Frank. ‘He told us that the sport was evolving fast, and that a new, even faster canoe was now available.’ A month later Joris was paddling around in his new Gielissen canoe 2.0.

Exciting qualification

In recent years Joris has been working hard on his Olympic dream, and it was certainly not a foregone conclusion that he would qualify. ‘Last year I met the international qualification requirements for participating in the Games’, says Joris. ‘But NOC*NSF added another requirement: I had to finish two races in the top 12 countries.’ The extra requirement was a nerve-wracking experience. 

From the three chances that Joris had for this, the first two did not go according to plan. ‘Ultimately, it was all down to a single run, in the unpredictable waters of Tacen in Slovenia’, relates Joris. ‘I had never been so nervous. Two years of qualifications came to a head.’ Despite the pressure, Joris managed to secure his ticket for the Olympics.

Olympic debut

In just a few weeks’ time, Joris will be making his Olympic debut. ‘I am already so happy. I would never have made it this far without the support from Gielissen. Many people do not realize, but as a fledgling sporter you have to support yourself completely. Fortunately, there are companies like Gielissen who help sporters to realize their dreams.’ 

‘It is truly an awesome experience for us, following Joris’ journey close-up’, adds Frank. ‘On social media we are discovering just how spectacular Joris’ sport really is. And that it is such an unpredictable sport, so there is a possibility that Joris, as a debuting canoeist, will pull a surprising performance out of the hat in Paris. The Zuid-Willemsvaart, behind our Shipyard, is certainly a wonderful place for welcoming a champion.’ Frank concludes with wishing him luck: ‘Make us proud, Joris!’ 

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