Never Give Up: With No Lower Left Leg, Mother Of Three Saskia van den Ouden Keeps Winning Medals And Providing Inspiration At The Amsterdam Produce Show

Saskia van den Ouden

Q: A series of medals follow your trail. How did you get into sport?

A: For 6 years, I couldn’t walk because I had a problem with my leg. In 2010, they amputated my leg, and then I wanted to get on with my life and to get on with sports, because I was sitting in a wheelchair for 6 years and I really wanted to walk again.

Q; How did you get into the triathlon series specifically? Which is your favorite part of it?

A: First I started with a wheelchair sports, but it wasn’t for me. I really wanted to get out of the wheelchair, but I didn’t have the money to pay for a prosthetic leg for running. It’s really expensive. I didn’t have that money. I tried to win it with a game on the radio in The Netherlands. They collect wishes. People can submit a really beautiful wish, and if you win, they give you the money on the radio.

Q: Which is your favorite part of the triathlon?

A: Running. I don’t really like to swim. Running is the best part.

Q: Let’s talk about food. Do you think nutrition has a role in performance as an athlete?

A: Yes, it plays a big role. It’s really important to eat well before the game.

Q: What does your daily routine look like?

A: A lot of fruits. Pasta. Cereals. Muesli with a lot of milk. Yoghurt. For lunch, I’m eating mostly bread with a lot of fresh fruit and eggs, and chicken.

Q: And for dinner?

A: I eat everything but before a game I only eat pasta and oatmeal.

Q: Does the way you eat have a direct effect with the way that you play?

A: Yes, I have a lot of energy when I eat quite healthy.

Q”: Have you had any experience when you didn’t eat so healthy and it affected the way that you performed?

A: Yes, if I ate fast food I would not have as much energy as I have when I eat my normal food.

Q: What about for people who are not athletic, for example? What would you recommend are the key factors in keeping a healthy diet?

A: I would say, don’t eat too much. Don’t overeat. Try to eat different things, so that it’s not always the same. Have variety.

Q: What about specifically fruits and vegetables? Are there any fruits that give you more energy and that you eat more often?

A: Bananas. I eat them a lot. Avocados. Broccoli.

Q: When you go to the supermarket, what is important for you when you buy fruits and vegetables? Do the supermarkets inform you about what is organic?

A: It’s important that the fruits are looking well. In the supermarkets, they don’t really tell you much information. I know the information myself though. I mainly buy produce from the supermarket. The supermarkets are great here. 

Q: What about cooking? Do you like to cook?

A: Yes I love to cook. I like cooking slow foods. For example, I put beef for a couple of hours on the fire. That’s really nice with a lot of herbs in it. It’s really good. It melts apart when you eat it.

Q: Do you like to go out to restaurants?

A: No. Oftentimes, I don’t do that in the season because I have a strict schedule, and I go to bed quite early. When I go out though, I take fish meals.

Q: Are you training at the moment? What is your daily routine?


A: Yes, I’m training now. Normally I start the day by going to swim for an hour, and then I go on the bike for 2 hours. I eat in between the practices. I also take sports nutrition, which has a lot of energy in it. It complements my diet. I also eat a lot of bananas and apples.

Q: I love bananas. They also make me happy.

A: Yes it’s true. Bananas are like chocolate. They make you happy.

Q: What is your advice for aspiring athletes? What is something you can give as a message to people?

A: Never give up. For example, this year in February I had to go to the hospital again. They cut my leg higher. They removed my knee now. So I went back to the hospital for 3 weeks, and everything was very uncertain because they didn’t know exactly the diagnosis. I lost my knee now, so I had to learn everything all over again. To walk, to run, to ride on the bike.

Q: It’s only been six months and you are training again. That’s amazing. You must have so much passion for this.

A: Yes, it’s everything to me. I really love the feeling of running. It’s amazing the feeling. It’s everything for me. The feeling of my body when I run. I feel full. When I run, I feel complete again. I’m feeling free. I’m so happy when I do that. I have a prosthetic leg and then when I run, I feel normal. I’m just like you.

Q: Yes, running is such a liberating experience. What are you training for right now?

A: I’m training for the triathlon again in April 2018. I’m really starting to learn everything all over again. My training isn’t that extensive right now. I run little distances. However, it’s going quite well now.

Source: Jim Prevor's Perishable Pundit