In 2012, Frisian gymnast Epke Zonderland won gold at the London Olympic Games, and this past Thursday, Zonderland achieved a new milestone: his medical degree.
Translation by Traci White
Zonderland was awarded his degree in the Academy Building of the University of Groningen on Thursday. Due to his athletic career, it ultimately took Zonderland, who is 32, 12 years to get his degree in medicine.
“I was enrolled in my first classes in 2006, and I was looking forward to the day that I could take my degree home”, Zonderland told Dutch national broadcaster NOS. “That was twelve years ago, so it definitely took a while to get here.”
When Zonderland was about half finished with his studies, his athletic career was peaking. The gymnast made a splash in London with his aerial skills on the horizontal bar. At the World Championships in Montreal, the Frisian athlete nearly fell from the bar, which meant he was out of medal contention, but Zonderland managed to complete his routine one handed.
Zonderland attributes his ability to finally achieve his degree to planning, and will start out as a basic practitioner working one day a week in order to continue preparing for qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he can go for the gold once more.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Zonderland completed his routine one-handed at the Olympic Games in Rio. It was at the World Championships in Montreal, not the Olympics. This has been corrected in the text.