When he goes past security at the National Stadium,Jacques Brinkmans sets off the metal detector machine. What triggers the machine off arent coins but something far more valuable. Nonchalantly wrapped in a plastic bag are Brinkmans two Olympic gold medals which he won at the 1996 games in Atlanta and the 2000 Sydney Games.
Brinkman doesnt always carry his medals around with him but when he does,he surely draws attention. Everytime I go through the airport check-in,I am stopped because of the medals. Because they are gold medals customs have to get involved. But eventually they just want to take pictures,says Brinkman who also has a couple of World Cup gold. Brinkman also has an Olympic bronze in 1988 which he doesnt mention much. Its a nice prize but nothing to brag about, he says.
Brinkman who scored 84 goals in 337 games for Netherlands making him the second-most capped Dutch player after Tim De Nooijer says carrying his medals around is his way of promoting hockey. I want to sit alongside spectators in the general stands and if they want pose with them for pictures with the medals. Hopefully,they will tell their friends about it and perhaps we can get some more spectators in the stadium, says Brinkman.
Thats not the only reason Brinkman is in Delhi. He is covering tournament for the Dutch daily Telegraaf and this assignment also gives him a chance to watch his son Thierry wear the colours he once wore.
Thierry,18,has already drawn comparisons with his 47-year-old father,both mid-fielders who wear No.8 jersey. While he still has a teens stringy physique,Indias technical director Roelant Oltmans,who previously has coached Jacques,saw enough in a practice game to tweet Watching the friendly match between Argentina and Holland. No 8 of Holland runs like his father but by far more skillful.
Thierry isnt the only of Brinkmans children to excel in sport. Son Tim,16 plays as center back for the junior FC Utrecht and is a member of the Dutch U-17 football side,while daughter Julie,the youngest,plays for the U-16 womens hockey team.
Thierry wears the tag of a star son lightly. It isnt something that anyone thinks about. I have a father and everyone has one as well. What matters is how I perform, he says.
Father though may have a say in his sons career soon. Brinkmans columns are taken very seriously by the players and officials back home. The player turned journalists ratings he gives players marks out of 10 after very game are particularly well read. At the London Olympics,I had given Naomi van Os of the womens team (who eventually won gold) a nine. Unfortunately the teams coach thought her performance could have been better. But she showed him the grade I had given her and eventually the coach had to agree, he says. The marks are now even used while negotiating contracts. Players will go to their club management and say I got a good grade,you need to pay me more, says Brinkman. And of course there are players and sometimes even their parents who ask for favours to bump up their marks.
Its going to be hard if Thierry makes it to the national team because of the conflict of interest principle. So I will be tougher on him than for any other player,says Brinkman. Thierry though is even harder on himself. At the end of Netherlands 7-0 win against Canada,Jacques chatted with Thierry about the game. On being asked how Thierry had done,Jacques gave him an eight because all his passes were accurate and he had earned a penalty stroke as well. Thierry though only gives himself a seven because he hadnt scored any goal himself.