The Tokyo Olympics opened Arno Kamminga’s eyes to what was possible.
The Netherlands swimmer won silver in the 100m and 200m breaststroke to add to his three second places at the European Championships in Budapest in May.
Arno then concluded 2021 with gold and silver at the World Short-Course Championships after four medals at the European showcase.
It was Tokyo though that made a special impact.
He said: “That really opened my eyes that you can swim way faster than this – just keep doing what you’re doing and keep improving and then swimming is going to be even more fun.”
Following Tokyo, Arno was awarded a badge of honour by the mayor of his hometown Katwijk as well as being named Amsterdam’s Sportsman of the Year and it led to him becoming a household name in the Netherlands.
“Some recognized me (in the street)” said Arno. “Especially my name sounds familiar to most people: they walk by, look back and say ‘is it really him?’ I like it.”
It was in stark contrast to the younger Arno who was the self-confessed “lazy guy”.
“I felt like I never had a real purpose in life, I was just doing stuff,” he said: “When I talk to my old team-mates, they’re like ‘we don’t get it. You were always the one first out of the water showering’. So I went away and five minutes later they were done and there were cold showers.”