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70OLYMPIC REVIEWLONDON 2012Will it be more difficult for you this year as defending champions?It's always difficult to defend a title, we have a lot of fresh faces including a new coach and wehave to take one step at a time. It's not a negativefor us, we don't let these things go to our head. We have a lot of work to do but I am looking forwardto it. It was definitely the coolest thing that I haveever done! How big is Hockey in Holland?A lot of people play hockey in Holland butsoccer is still the biggest sport by far. TheOlympic Games do bring the game of hockey to alarger audience though. Hockey is getting bigger allthe time and media attention is growing too.How did it feel to score in the BeijingOlympic final and then win gold?The fact that we had achieved our goal took a few days to sink in. When I watch the game again I still get goose bumps. It was a long time ago but I still get the same feeling every time.What do you think of London hosting the Games?I love London! I have only been there oncethough. There are so many people and the shopping isamazing! With all the world's best athletes in one place,the atmosphere is incredible and I am looking forward tobeing in an Olympic village again. It's great that theGames are in London, people can travel from Hollandvery easily, so there will be lotsof support for us. When did you start to play hockey?My mother played and I used to play aroundwith my little hockey stick when I went towatch her. I started to play when I was six althoughbecoming a professional was not anything that Idreamt of, even when I was selected for the Dutchyouth team at the age of 13. I was just playingbecause I loved it. When I turned 18, I began torealise that I could represent Holland and then fouryears later we won the World Cup.Did you always dream of becoming anOlympian? I was very sporty when I was younger. I wouldalways play outside but I didn't watch a lot of TV. Myearliest memory of the Olympic Games was watchingthe swimming when Pieter van den Hoogenband andInge de Bruijn won gold in Sydney in 2000.How does an average training week work?During the club season, we train three days a week with the national team, two days withour clubs with two days rest and a club game onSunday. In the build-up to a tournament, we will trainevery day together as a national team.Where do you have to be strongest to bean international hockey player?We do a lot of work on our core stability so thatwe can be strong on the ball and stay on our feetunder pressure. I was always fast with the ball but you have to be able to take the physical impact too,especially against the British girls!Who will be your most dangerous rivals in London?Australia will be strong in London as well asArgentina, China and Germany. London 2012 maycome too soon for the British girls though.What music do you like to listen to?I generally listen to chart music like Cheryl Cole.HOCKEY NAOMIVANASTHE GOLDEN GIRL OF DUTCH HOCKEY LOOKS AHEAD TO DEFENDING THEIROLYMPIC CROWN IN LONDON IN TWO YEARS TIMEAQAQAQAQAQAQAQAQAQAQ

Van As in actionagainst SouthKorea during the2008 OlympicGames in Beijing OLYMPIC REVIEW71