2018-02-22 17:00:00 CEST
The Dutch Olympian, who returned to the sands after a four-year break, is set to debut in the Beach Major Series in Fort Lauderdale
Sanne Keizer is a seasoned beach volleyball player with 11 World Tour seasons and one Olympic appearance under her belt, but when the Dutch veteran hits the sand on Tuesday to compete in the Fort Lauderdale Major, she will go through a handful of new experiences.
An Under-18 world champion in 2002, Keizer decided in the end of 2013, shortly after finishing ninth at the 2012 London Olympics, that was time for massive changes in her life. And so she did. After 15 seasons of volleyball, the Dutch ended her career, enrolled in a Masters in Science of Criminal Investigation, got a job in the police and gave birth to her “cutest little monsters”, the twins Puk and Kees.
Everything seemed to be on track, until beach volleyball casually returned to her life. Last June, she agreed to compete in the four-star World Tour event in The Hague with Madelein Meppelink to replace her injured partner Sophie van Gestel. What would be a one-time union quickly escalated to a partnership invitation and four months later Keizer was training again, ready to resume her career.
“I felt I still loved beach volleyball so much and could still play the game, it was like coming home,” she told beachmajorseries.com. “It was not an easy decision, everything around me changed so much and it’s really hard to leave home and travel around the world again with kids. But my husband (Belgium’s coach Michiel van der Kuip) was very supportive and I felt my dream was still the same. I want to do better than in the first time and return to the Olympics.”
The 33-year-old officially returned to the courts in the World Tour four-star event in The Hague in January, when Meppelink and her finished 17th, and they also competed in the European Masters in Pelhrimov, one week later, getting the 13th place.
Keizer found a very different scenario for international volleyball on her return and she will play in her first Beach Major Series event in Fort Lauderdale. To get to compete against the best in the world again, though, the Dutch veteran will have to triumph in the qualification tournament, a stage of the competition she last competed at in 2004.
“The system has changed a lot and I need to adjust,” she said. “It has been a long time since I’ve last been in the qualification tournament, but I’m always ready to play. It’s hard to tell how it’s going to be, but I’ll give my best and hopefully our experience helps.”
Another new situation Keizer will have to adjust to is playing defense. At 1.81m, she considered herself an undersized blocker in the first stage of her career and the gold medalist of the Shangai and the Myslowice stops of the World Tour in 2011 is now a fearless defender, a role she happily took when she returned to the sport.
“I always saw myself as a defender,” she added. “I see the level the World Tour has now and the players are taller. I was never at my best as a blocker and I said to myself that I would only return if I was a defender and if I had the best blocker in front of me and that’s Madelein in my opinion. She’s such a hard worker and an inspirational player.”
35 Likes, 2 Comments - Sanne Keizer (@sannekeizer) on Instagram: "😍 Fijnste moment van de dag! Samen filmpje kijken #twinlifestyle #bedtijd 💙💖"
The women’s medal matches in Fort Lauderdale are scheduled for Saturday, March 3, and regardless if Keizer is playing or not, it will be a festive day at her house. That’s because her twins will be celebrating their second birthday. And mom is planning to return home with a special present for them.
“It was really hard to say goodbye to them, this is the most special day of the year for me,” she told us. “But working with sports is hard and you have to make decisions like that, I knew that when I decided to return. If I’m playing in the medal matches, which would already be great coming from qualification, it will make the trip worth it. My kids are my biggest motivation, I want them to know why I’m away and if I can come home with a medal, one day they will understand and be proud of me.”
We are pretty sure they already are, Sanne! Welcome back!
You can watch Keizer’s debut in the Beach Major Series live on BeachStream. Register here and don’t miss a single moment of all the action in Fort Lauderdale.
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