Bert van der Tuuk - Director Sportconfex BV
What does Sportconfex do?
"With 140 people in two establishments, in Assen and Poland, we manufacture sportswear for bicycle sports, cross country, inline skating, ice skating and many other sports. Skating requirements are only a small part of our turnover, however my heart and that of my wife lies there. We supply skating suits to almost all brands. The Russians skate in Bosco-suits, Craft is supplier to the KNSB (Royal Dutch Ice Skating League) but all the suits come from our factories."
Marnix was your competitor in the beginning. How did that come about?
"It is no secret that we certainly were not each other's best freinds. He started with his little iron in my trade, because I had been placing logos on skating suits much longer than him. But during winter we came across each other every week and then I visited him. I had a sponsor in G4S who could be interesting for him and his skaters, and I said to him: "We should rather work together. Leave the clothing up to me from now on. And that was how we started doing things."
Is the KIA Speed Skating Academy the salvation for worldwide skating?
"What? Complete nonesense! Recently in cyclo-cross racing a comparison was made; that cyclo-crossing is to the Belgians as skating is to the Dutch. What a lot of rubbish! We should not accept such disregard of skating, for a long time it has not been an 'only Dutch sport'. What I do say is that it is the most mature sport in the Winter Games, with many nationalities participating. Americans, Chinese, Russians, Germans, Koreans, Japanese and Norwegians and Dutch, that is quite different to bobsleighing and skiing, in which only a few mountainous countries participate. I have two reasons for supporting the KIA Speed Skating Academy as ambassadoor. Firstly, I have a stake in it so that as many people in as many countries as possible start skating, I will then sell more suits. But most important is that skating is my sport. I fully support the work that Marnix and his people are doing in Inzell. The ISU should have done this a long time ago, but at least Marnix is not scared to stick out his neck."