Havard Bokko, Interview 9th January 2013
What is typical of Norwegian people?
I think Norwegian people are more quiet than in other countries. We like to have visitors and people on vacation in Norway, for example the Dutch people. And we also like to keep our traditions, especially outside the city. We really like our country, because of the nature. There are not so many people, and we like to take care of our beautiful country, with its nature.
How do we recognize this Culture in the Norwegian Speedskaters?
In general Norwegians are very friendly. So are we, the Norwegian speedskaters. I think we are not selfish. We have friends in every country, we talk with all the people, and we have fun all the time.
What is the difference with the Dutch Speedskaters?
In Netherlands there are many more skaters at a higher level. There is more prestige. I think in general they are more serious and concentrated on what they do. When I’m on-training I’m very focused, but when I’m off-training I’m not thinking about skating. Then I’m relaxing with other people, that’s totally different.
Are Norwegian and Dutch Speedskaters naturally Friends or Competitors?
We are for sure competitors when we race, and also right before the competition. That’s important for everyone. But the speedskate-family is not so big, so I think the most of us are friends. There is no fighting between the countries. And I like all the Dutch skaters. It’s fun with them and they are important to the international skating also to bring sponsors. It’s the main sport in Holland. In 2011 when Sven had a year off, you could feel that in the public, and the media was on the way down. It is good that we have Dutch stars in the speedskating.
What can Businessmen learn from Speedskaters?
A lot of leaders learn from sportsmen that they have to set goals every year. I point out 1 goal every year, and I work on towards it. If you don’t have a goal, you are not doing a good job. To be a champion, in business or as a Speedskater, you need clear goals.
What can Speedskaters learn from Businessmen?
We need to learn to take care of people around us. It’s important to have a good team. Of course we skate alone in the race, but we are always a team in training, and travel more than 220 days per year. It’s important to have fun in the team. Only then we can skate good, and don’t spend negative energy on other things.
What do you like about Speedskating in the Netherlands?
Actually I have only been skating in Thialf (Heereveen). I’m not sure how many times. Since 2004 I’m skating here in every championship and worldcup. Thialf is great, when there are 10 to 12 thousand people inside, making a lot of noise. It’s crazy. Only Hamar, if it’s full, can be close to Thialf. But it is something special. In Thiaf you are only 5 meters away from the audience. We are really close to them. When I skate I can’t hear my breath or hear the sound of my skates. If you are Dutch, Norwegian or any other country, the people in Thialf shout for you. For example in Russia, you can have 5 thousand people in the ring, but they are quiet. And they are sleeping when other countries are skating.
What is your ultimate goal in Speedskating?
The biggest goal is the Olympics. Olympic Gold is the highest. The best you can win in Speedskating. The last years my best is the 1.500 m. So the next year I’m may be more focussing on the 1.500 m towards Sochi. I think I have a good chance, but there are also 10 other people that could win. It’s really close. You need your day, and you need to be in topshape. For sure someone will have the best race of his life, and I hope it’s me that day. A good example is Mark Tuitert, he skated the best race of his life on the Olympics. He peaked at the right hour.
What is your ambition after your Speedskating career?
I’m not sure. I’m not thinking about it. I hope I can skate many more years, and that I’m not getting sick, getting injured or losing my motivation. I like skating so much. I hope to be still at the highest level for many years. We will see when I’m done with skating. I’m doing it already for 8 years now. And I’m very motivated to win some more worldchampionships and hopefully olympics.
What is your personal message to Dutch and Norwegian business people?
I hope that companies in Norway and Netherlands see the opportunity to work together and maybe sponsor Speedskate teams or persons to get publicity in both countries. It’s important for both Norway and the Netherlands. I think we have a lot to learn from each other. You can see that in skating, which is the main connection between Norway and Holland.
Lucas den Boer (DNBN General Manager) interviews Havard Bokko (Norwegian Champion Speedskating 2012, Worldchampion 1500m 2011, Silvermedal Worldchampionship Allround 2011, Bronze Olympic Games 1500m 2010, and many more), Wolvega (NL) 9th of January 2013