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Epke Zonderland: ‘It’s A Special Year For Me’
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Horizontal bar gold medalist Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands could be forgiven for feeling a bit distracted and overwhelmed in Doha.

It’s a special year for me,” said Zonderland, a new father and recent medical-school graduate. “Of course, it’s great to finish my studies, and last Saturday (October 13) my baby son, Bert, was born. It’s hard to stay focused here, but I’m really happy about it.”

After the award ceremony, Zonderland barely made it into the mixed zone when someone handed him a mobile phone, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the line offering congratulations. “He said it was an amazing performance,” Zonderland said of the conversation.

“He didn’t see it yet because he was in the car, but he said his sister saw it on television and was very impressed. So he’s going to watch it quite soon.”

Zonderland also credited his wife, Linda Steen, for her wholehearted support of his participation.

“My wife did a great job in allowing me to go here,” he said. “She didn’t say she didn’t like it or anything, so I’m also really proud of her.”

It was Zonderland’s third high bar title. The first two were in 2013 (Antwerp) and 2014 (Nanning). He also won the gold on his best event at the 2012 London Olympics.

Zonderland is included in "Stories From Doha," which appears in the 2019 January/February issue of International Gymnast.

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