‘If you ask it from your body, your body will give it to you!’ Jeffrey Hoogland – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 4

Interview guest Jeffrey Hoogland, double World Champion 2018, Olympian 2016 reveals how his supposed to be best moment turned into his worst moment when he performed under his own expectations at the Rio Olympics 2016.

He outlines how it took him over a year to come back from that moment. However, he came back stronger than ever before, claiming two world championship titles in 2018 and setting a new world record in one event at the same world championships.

Furthermore, we discuss

Christian: Today I am joined by someone who I was lucky to be a part of their journey, Jeffrey Hoogland, track cyclist, who started out as a BMX rider.

Jeffrey is a 2016 Olympian and at the time of this recording [2018] newly-crowned World Champion in track cycling team sprint and the kilometer time trial, in which he also set a new world record on sea level. It was an amazing race for you, where they had to carry you off the bike after the race because you went so deep into your reserves.

Jeffrey Hoogland: Yes, it was quite impressive, my muscles couldn’t do anything anymore.

Jeffrey’s darkest moment

Christian: Jeffrey, in your life as an athlete what was your darkest moment?

Jeffrey: I don’t really have a lot of dark moments. But since the Olympic Games are so important to me and it was quite a big achievement to get there in the first place.

It also was like a dark moment, because I expected a lot from the Olympics and in the end, it didn’t work out how I had it in my mind. My results were not good there, so I had a pretty big setback from the Rio Olympic Games 2016.

I expected a lot from the Olympics and in the end, I had a pretty big setback from the Rio Olympic Games 2016.

Christian: How did you recover from that setback?

Jeffrey: I took a lot of time off and tried to enjoy everything again. I went out with my friends, did BMX racing, did some Motocross, did hobbies, took my mind off track cycling, just did things different than normal and tried to relax.

I think when you are preparing for the Olympics, you cannot do a lot of things besides your job, in my case track cycling, so you have to sacrifice a lot of things. And I think after Rio 2016,  I just did everything, I sacrificed before.

When you are preparing for the Olympics, you have to sacrifice a lot of things.

And after three months or so our coach at the time René Wolff called and said, “Hey, come, we have to start to train again.”

And we did some more racing, and I started to set a new sub-goal for the World Championships 2017. And from there I built up again, I got stronger and faster and became World Champion this year [2018].

Christian: In the quarter-final of the Olympic Games in 2016, you were facing the finalist of 2012 Grégory Baugé from France. In that race, you made the smart move and got the upper hand, but you ended up not winning that race.

Jeffrey: Yes, I made a smart move, and 50 or 75 meters later he made the same move on me and he took the lead. Our speed was low, so we both had to accelerate, and I didn’t make it on time to finish line.

It was a really good move, I thought I had it in my pocket, and he just did the same with me and then I was in his pocket.

I thought I had him in my pocket, and in the end, I was in his pocket.

Christian: What did you learn from that?

Jeffrey: It’s actually quite hard with one-on-one sprinting, you have all kind of tactics and your opponent has tactics. The races are always different and there is no standard procedure, so it’s quite hard to not make mistakes.

It’s quite hard to not make mistakes.

So, you have to be in the moment, adapt in the moment, and try to think about a plan in your race, the strongest points, the weaknesses, and from there you can be confident in the race. You might know a bit about your opponent, but tactics-wise it’s always hard and you have to see what happens in the race.

Of course, I learned that I did something smart and he copied that in the end, so I had to stay a bit lower. So, watch more, think about your movement and what comes next and not just think, “He’s not moving and now I’m ahead.” And I thought that the race was so good.

Enjoy your movement, but keep sharp; there is someone who is still willing to win as badly as you, and you have to watch out.

Keep sharp; there is someone who is willing to win as badly as you, and you have to watch out.

Jeffrey’s best moment

Christian: What was your best moment?

Jeffrey: My best moment happened a short while ago, at the Track Cycling World Championships this year [2018]. I became the World Champion in the elite class on very high-level racing in the team sprint, as well as in the 1 km time trial.

That gave me a lot of motivation, and I hope it’s a start. It’s my biggest achievement at the moment, but I hope it’s a start for even more achievements.

It’s my biggest achievement at the moment, but I hope it’s a start for even more achievements.

We were really happy with the team sprint and that it all worked out. We always focus on the team sprint and we are just super happy that we did bring it home.

In the individual sprint I made a mistake and didn’t end up on the podium, but then I had the power and the strength to do the 1-kilometer time trial at my best at that moment. And on top of that at a world record on sea level.

Christian: It’s also worth noting that in the two World Championships before, in 2016 and 2017, in the team sprint you ended up with the second place both times.

Jeffrey: Yes. We were close a lot of times, but this time we made it work. I think it’s the most important thing that we work as a team and then we achieve goals as a team.

Besides that, we can have our own goals as well, but the main focus must be on the team.

We work as a team and then we achieve goals as a team. We can have our own goals as well, but the main focus must be on the team.

Christian: What did you learn from that moment, or how has it influenced you? You mentioned already that you believe it’s the start of even more, anything else to add from winning the World Championship?

Jeffrey: I think the World Championship gave me some more motivation. As an athlete, you cannot have enough titles. You always want more and better and bigger, and I think that’s just natural.

It motivates me to do more, work harder, and it shows you up in a good way, that’s why I want to continue.

As an athlete, you cannot have enough titles. You always want more and better and bigger, and I think that’s just natural.

Jeffrey’s advise to a younger Jeffrey Hoogland

Christian: If you could travel back 10 years, 15 years in time and you meet yourself as a youngster, what advice would you give your younger self?

Jeffrey: I would tell the younger Jeffrey Hoogland to enjoy what he is doing and keep having fun with it. I think that’s the most important thing and that’s what drives me for the most part. Have fun and go chase your goals, that’s what I did, that’s what I really like.

I get really happy from reaching my goals and achieving something. I get really proud and happy about it, and that’s what drives me and motivates me. Keep having fun, set high goals and try to reach them.

And of course, you’ll have setbacks, but try to manage through it, don’t give up. Keep achieving, keep reaching for your goals.

Have fun and go chase your goals.

Jeffrey’s success habits

Christian: What are the habits that make you a successful person or athlete?

Jeffrey: I think what makes me successful is my talent, and l have to be thankful for that.

I’m really happy, that I found out I was good on the bike. I found out quite early when I was 3-years-old I sat on a BMX bike and I was pretty good. I had some power in my body, and it’s good to have a lot of power and strength. So, there was a lot of potential in me to be a good cyclist, and I’m happy that I could take it out of my body.

I have to be thankful for my talent and my body that it works well for the sport I chose. That’s what’s necessary for track cycling, your body and cycling skills, and from there on it’s learning strategies and tactics.

I have to be thankful for my talent and my body.

Christian: What I have seen you over the past years, is that you have the ability to not getting affected very much. I think if you focus on something, you are pretty much in your own zone and do not let bs from the outside affect you. That is also one of your strengths.

Jeffrey: From the outside, it looks like I don’t always have a plan or something, but I think in my head I truly know what to do and how to achieve the things I want to achieve.

I don’t write it down or anything, but if I have a goal and I think about what I want to do, I know the steps and how to do it. When I don’t see those steps, or I don’t see how to do it, I’m not motivated.

So, if I have a goal and I see how to approach it or how to achieve it, then I am motivated to get in the zone and focus on what I have to do.

If I don’t see it working out or I don’t see how I can do it, then I’m like, “I’m not trying this.” Or, I go another path, because I think it’s better.

If I have a goal and I think about what I want to do, I know the steps how to get there.

Jeffrey’s morning routine

Christian: Do you have a morning routine? How do you get ready for the day?

Jeffrey: I have to get up early, but I am sort of always late and I like to do things at the last minute. So if I have some more time before leaving for training, I like do something in the meantime, and then I end up late for training.

I’m a little chaotic, but my morning routine is mostly getting out of bed, brush my teeth, eat breakfast, and while I do that watch some television. Most of the time drink some coffee. But by then I already have to go to training.

It’s an easy routine, but as I said, most of the time it’s a bit chaotic.

Christian: I think Tucholski, a famous Russian writer once said, “The genius likes chaos.”

Jeffrey: I think I’m sort of like that, just chaotic. But things get managed and done as well. It drives me nuts sometimes.

I have to get up early, but I am sort of always late.

How to prepare for important moments

Christian: How do you prepare yourself for important moments?

Jeffrey: I don’t just prepare for an important moment, it starts earlier much earlier than that. For the World Championships, it started two months before. I focus on my diet a bit more, the training focus is better and I make the finishing touches.

Actually, in those two months, I do some racing, I do everything that builds my confidence and everything that I feel I need to do to improve. And I make sure I get enough rest.

This helps to feed the confidence. When you know, you did everything, you know how you did it, and you know, that you are good at what you are doing, you get that confident feeling.

When you know, you did everything, and you know, that you are good at what you are doing, you get that confident feeling.

And then at that moment, you get really nervous, but I use those nerves to be sharp and ready for it. I get pretty nervous, but I use that as a strength. It keeps me so sharp and keeps me so focused.

I get pretty nervous, but I use that as a strength. It keeps me so sharp and focused.

Christian: How do you do that, if you feel the nerves coming up? How do you use that feeling to get into a peak state?

Jeffrey: I think it has something to do with the fact, that I have been racing since I was 4 years old. I have done it so many times, I know what racing is like, I know what pressure is, and it comes quite naturally to me to stay calm.

But there are nerves; I use them, it’s hard to explain how to do it.

I actually like the feeling of getting nervous, that means something important is going to happen. I’m getting sharp from the feeling. There is something important that you want to do, you worked for it, you want to achieve it. That makes me strong.

Christian: You also seem to be able to step it up in important moments. Some athletes, they are at that level and that’s who they are. But you are able to step it up if it counts.

Jeffrey: Yes. If you compare my training level with my racing level, there’s always a big difference. So, the nerves and everything triggers me to give that little extra and do a little bit more.

And obviously, I am training hard, but there is always some spare left, that I can get out of myself in racing. I build that up in training, but I think I get everything out in racing.

I know for me there is not a lot that is more important for me, than winning that race at that moment, it’s like all or nothing. And getting everything out makes me better in races.

There is nothing more important for me than winning that race at that moment. It’s like all or nothing.

Christian: A true sprinter needs the adrenaline.

Jeffrey: Yes, of course. It’s adrenaline, and it’s focus, nerves and that little extra that you get out of yourself.

How Jeffrey overcomes setbacks

Christian: How do you overcome setbacks? You said you didn’t have a lot, but if you look back at your career, you have had setbacks, how did you overcome them?

Jeffrey: I think I am good at putting things aside, continue to go further and just keep on working. I think in the back of my mind I know what I am doing is good and right, so if I have a setback I can really get down and feel bad for a week or two and if I think about it like, “Oh shit, something went wrong, I have to do it better.”

But then I think I just know what to do and then just start over, training again, racing again, focus, just focus on a new goal and leave the bad experience behind.

Sometimes it is pretty hard. The Rio Olympic Games took a lot of energy from me, I was not happy with it.

You have to let the feelings go. If things went wrong and set a new goal and go towards that new goal. That’s what I really like to do, set a new goal, just go on and see if that works, and make changes along the way that is necessary.

And if you are achieving your new goal, you forget your past setbacks. I think I have forgotten my setbacks by achieving a new goal, being happy with that and then be like, “That didn’t really matter”, but it was a part of the way towards this new goal.

You have to let the feelings go. If things went wrong, you have to set a new goal and go towards that new goal.

Christian: If you don’t achieve the goal then how do you overcome the setback?

Jeffrey: Just set another goal I guess. If I don’t achieve that goal, I set a different goal. I think I work a lot with goals in my head.

I don’t really think about it much and I don’t talk about it much, because I just do things I believe need to be done. But I always have a reason and a goal in my mind. I think that’s really important for me.

If you don’t achieve your goal, set a new goal.

Jeffrey’s role model

Christian: Who is your role model, and why?

Jeffrey: That’s a tough question because I don’t really believe in role models. I like certain people and what they do, but it’s not that I really want to follow that path or that role model. I just like seeing some guys that give me positive energy to find my own way.

Like in my youth, the BMX riders that I liked to follow changed over the years. People come into your life and you follow the good things that you see, and then make your own path to a goal. I don’t really have a role model. Just look at some different people and choose your own way.

I don’t really believe in role models, I choose own way.

The best advice he ever received

Christian: What is the best advice you received and who gave it to you?

Jeffrey: I think the best advice that was given to me was from René Wolff, and I don’t even know if he noticed that this advice was so important to me. He once said to me at a race, “If you ask it from your body, your body will give it to you. Just go for it and ask your body to deliver it.”

It was at a race, I really felt down, I was like, “I cannot do this anymore. I’m completely done, I’m empty, there’s nothing in me anymore.” I think it was before the finals of a race, and he was like, “But if you ask yourself it’s in you, it’s just your mind sitting there telling you to go.”

I think that’s something I use in training and in races. If I am tired or something I’m like, “If you ask for it you will get it from your body and you will achieve it again or train better.”

If you ask it from your body, your body will give it to you. Just go for it and ask your body to deliver it.

A typical training day in the life of Track Cyclist

Christian: What does a typical training day look like?

Jeffrey: For me, it’s quite normal to go to my training, as other people go to their work. I go to the Omnisport in Apeldoorn, where the track is or to Papendal, where the gym is.

I go to a location, the schedule is always ready and clear, and you just practice until you are done and satisfied. I am mostly done after two or three hours of training, and then I go back home.

When we are in Papendal and we have more training, we stay there for lunch. For lunch, we have a lot of protein, like eggs and meat. We rest and relax and then prepare for a second training of the day. And the cycle repeats again, we go to the training location, train for two or three hours and then go back home and prepare there for the next training day.

In our nutrition, protein is the base of our diet, so we focus a lot on foods with high amounts of protein. The training is a part of the day where you have to focus, you need to be ready at that moment and then relax afterward.

The training is a part of the day where you have to focus, you need to be ready at that moment and then afterward you can relax.

Jeffrey’s interview nomination

Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?

Jeffrey: I would like to nominate Shanne Braspennincx, a female track sprinter on our team, and I think she will have some good answers as well.

Christian: I know, she has some stories to tell.

Jeffrey: Yes, good stories and good answers as well, good answers for life motivation and training motivation, I think she’s quite good at that.

Where can you find Jeffrey Hoogland

Christian: Where can people find you?

Jeffrey: People can find me on all social media platforms, you just search Jeffrey Hoogland. It’s quite easy, just Google the name or look it up on Facebook, you can find me.

Christian: Jeff, thanks for that.

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