Dutch water polo team soak up fans' attention in Taiwan

2017/08/31 18:59:41 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Dutch water polo team soak up fans' attention in Taiwan

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) Water polo might not be a popular sport in Taiwan, but the men of the Dutch water polo team sure are making a splash in the country.

The team made their way to Taipei's Dalongdong Bao'an Temple on Thursday with the Dutch swim team, where they were greeted by a swarm of fans and reporters.

Captain Robin Lindhout said that the temple was one of the places the team had on their list to visit, noting "it's amazing to be here, with all the culture of Taiwan and Taipei."

Tour guides walked the teams through the temple, explaining the purpose of the incense sticks and divination blocks.

Many of the water polo players were in awe of the temple's architecture, calling it beautiful.

Player Bilal Gbadamassi told reporters that this was his first time in a Taiwanese temple, adding that he would like to see more.

The presence of the photographers did not detract from the experience for the water polo team, who in their half-month stay in Taiwan have been made to feel like rockstars, Gbadamassi noted.

The team rose to stardom before even arriving in the country on Aug. 15 when the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Taiwan posted a photo of them in their speedos on the office's Facebook page.

Of their newfound fame, the team captain said it is a new albeit nice experience since "at home, it's not like this."

"The way things are with all the cameras and all the people welcoming us, it's even more special," Lindhout continued about the day's visit to Bao'an Temple.

As the team learned about Taiwanese culture during their visits to Bao'an Temple and Xia-Hai City God Temple on Thursday, they also reflected on the 2017 Universiade.

The water polo team performed "pretty good" with five wins and 2 losses, coach Robin van Galen told CNA.

Lindhout commented on his team's performance, saying that many of the matches were very close.

"It was a close match against Italy in the quarterfinals, and it could have ended up either way...Japan was the same. We could have won, but we lost," he said.

On ranking seventh in water polo during this year's games, Lindhout said that "seventh isn't bad but it's not great."

"It's also below what we expected. We came here to fight for the medals, but unfortunately we have to deal with position number seven," he added.

Looking ahead, the team is returning home tomorrow, where they will soon begin practice and school.

Their 2017 Universiade experience will motivate them to work even harder, Lindhout noted, saying "the goal has always been to go to the Olympics" and big tournaments like the Universiade will help them reach Olympic standard.

Someone else who has the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on her mind is Dutch swimmer Kira Toussaint.

The 23-year old took gold in the women's 50 meter backstroke at the 2017 Universiade.

Toussaint is no stranger to the Olympics, having competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

She told CNA that her goal in Tokyo is to "do better than the last time" and "make the Olympic final."

On her win, Toussaint said she was really happy "when I looked at the scoreboard and saw a '1' next to my name."

"It felt like it finally all came together in that one race," she added, saying that she was really surprised at her victory because she was not "really doing very well" in the rest of the meets.

Toussaint said that she would like to go out and celebrate her win on her last night in Taiwan, after which both the water polo and swim teams will make their way home Friday.

(By Kuan-lin Liu)

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