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Dutch athletes divided in battle Gravenstijn and Bonnes

16 Mar 2016 16:50

   Marcel van de Kerkhof
2015-06-01 07

Dutch judo seemed to fall apart in two groups where a group of Dutch athletes aren’t happy with the current situation where technical director Henry Bonnes resigned his job after the board didn’t give them the trust to proceed his work. The other group disagrees with the policy of the former TD. Bonnes was responsible for the removal of coach Mark Earle, who is the partner of board member and former double Olympic medallist Deborah Gravenstijn. She managed to get a majority in the board to remove TD Bonnes after a personal battle, which was against the will of the first group of athletes.

updated story:

Five months in advance of the Olympic Games, the some of the major athletes want Bonnes back and sent in an open letter to the media to request Deborah Gravenstijn to step down as a board member of the Dutch Judo Association.

Dex Elmont, Anicka van Emden, Henk Grol, Kim Polling and Marhinde Verkerk wrote the letter after the turmoil of the past few days.

“We want to make an urgent request to you, Deborah, to step down in the interest of judo in the Netherlands.'' According a painful request supported by the athletes.

"The board should be ashamed.” “Deborah, your role as a top sport board member was questionable from the start."

The Judo Association has read the letter, but didn’t respond yet. The letter will be discussed internally, with double Olympic medallist and board member Gravenstijn.

Bonnes is asked by the athletes to return to the job and will get the support of the athletes because of his huge credibility. The plan to centralise all training facilities is now delayed as all athletes question whether there is enough support for the idea, at least not from their side.

Another group of athletes criticised the open letter of the five athletes as they do not fully agree with the policy of former TD Henry Bonnes. The other group judoka react: "It gives us the impression that these judoka represent all of us, but they may not have the knowlegde of the full case. We did not always agree with the policy of Henry Bonnes," say Sanne Verhagen, Juul Franssen, Roy Meyer, Tessie Savelkouls, Guusje Steenhuis and Sanne van Dijke in their open letter.

"We ask the Board to act quick and efficient and we trust they act in the benefit of the judoka."

It looks that the athletes are both divided, and so is the policy which presses the Dutch Judo Association in an even deeper crisis. So far the board didn't respond to any of the letters. Only Board Member Wouter de Kruyff stepped down as he did not agree with the policy.

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Related Judo Photos

  • Deborah Gravenstijn (NED) - Olympic Games Athens (2004, GRE) - © Reuters
  • Deborah Gravenstijn (NED) - Olympic Games Beijing (2008, CHN) - © IJF Media Team, International Judo Federation
  • Henk Grol (NED) - European Games Baku (2015, AZE) - © European Judo Union / EJU, Copyright:

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