Gregory Sedoc, born on October 16th 1981 in Amsterdam, fell in love with athletics as a young boy and has become a well-known face in the sporting world. As a hurdler he competed in the Olympics three times and his biggest achievement was in 2007: winning the 60 meters at the European Indoor Championships. As of 2016, the end of his successful career is coming nearer. If Sedoc has it his way, the Olympic Games in Rio will be his last. But that’s not his main objective. “I’m actually preparing for the European Championships in Amsterdam. Rio is the dessert.”
Nowadays Sedoc doesn’t live in Amsterdam anymore, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots. “I grew up in Amsterdam South, Buitenveldert, and I lived there for eighteen years. It’s special that I have the chance to end my career in my own back garden. That makes it even more fun.” Sedoc doesn’t (yet) have a special connection to the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium. “Not as an athlete at least, but as a young boy I would go to the big matches of Ajax. When they played Feyenoord for example, or when they were in the Europa Cup. I think the stadium looks great now.”
Between July 6 and 10 there will be over 20,000 spectators in that stadium every day. Does that put you under extra pressure or is it a motivation for you?
“It’s motivation. I actually never feel pressure. I always run for fun, so it only give me an extra kick: the busier the better. I really just enjoy it. The only pressure I feel, is the pressure I put myself under.”
And what pressure will you put yourself under during the European Championships?
“I’m in a different position than some other athletes; I don’t have to win. My aim is to go to the next round and maybe even reach the finals, but that’s about it. People don’t expect me to come home with a medal. Actually, I don’t either. So I will turn up at the starting line and just have a good race. For my Olympic ticket for Rio I need to run 13.40, and that’s going to be extremely difficult. My current record is 13.37. On the other hand, I will do my best and I always want to run as fast as possible. We’ll see how it turns out on the day.”
So stadiums packed with spectators don’t scare Sedoc. Does the fact that these European Championships are going to take place in his backyard, mean that he will prepare differently in any way?
“I’ve been preparing for big tournaments for years, so this won’t be any different. I’m very busy with my training schedule now. In March and April I will go on a training trip and starting in May I’ll have my first races. That’s not very different than a usual year. I don’t know why I would do things any other way this time, even if it’s an Olympic year.”
But an Olympic year does have something special, right?
“That’s true, I’ve started a crowd funding campaign and I created a foundation (Greg2Rio) to raise money to fund training camps. I give presentations and this Saturday I’m hosting a big dinner. I have to say, it’s going really well.”
So we’re hoping for a final for Sedoc and a ticket to Rio, but what can we expect from the other Dutch athletes?
“I think it’s going to be a great tournament, especially now we have Dafne Schippers, Sifan Hassan, Eelco Sintnicolaas, Nadine Broersen… We really have a chance of winning a lot of medals. We’re performing so well on an international level, that I think there will be many supporters coming along. People are excited about athletics. It really is ‘athletics like never before’.”
Are these European Championships a boost for athletics on all levels?
“Yes, absolutely. The number of people doing athletics has increased, schools are doing more with the sport. The good form of the Dutch athletes has really brought more attention to the sport.”
Talking about their achievements, do you dare predict a medal table?
“Oh, let me think, 2, 3, 4, 5, …, I’m sure we’ll get at least 8 medals.”
And what kind of medals would those be?
“Well, at least three times gold thanks to Dafne Schippers (100 and 200 meters) and Sifan Hassan (1500 meters), quite a few silver and some bronze.”
This tournament or Rio will be your last races, will we be seeing Gregory Sedoc in athletics afterwards?
“Yes, of course! As an enthusiast I’ll be coming to watch. I love athletics. So, yes, you’ll definitely be seeing me back.”
Did the number of requests to do commentary increase after ‘your performance’ during Schippers’ golden race in Beijing?
“Well, not just due tot hat, but I will be reporting for NOS.”
Finally, of course we’re all going to watch the 110 meters hurdles, but for which other events should people come tot he stadium in July?
“The 100 and 200 meters for women, of course. And, let’s think, for everyone actually, but I would certainly get tickets to see Eelco Sintnicolaas.”