Tosh van Dijk (Taekwondo – Suriname): Update Road to Tokyo 2020, now 2021

I started my Olympic camp December 12th, 2019 in the United States of America with coach Mohamed Ali Melghagh. The weeks that I have trained in The United States was one of the hardest camps that I have experienced and the best that I have felt for a competition. We trained more hours, did specific work and at an early stage of the preparation I felt ready for the Olympic Qualification that was coming.

I competed January 28th, 2020 in my first tournament of the year, the Mexico Taekwondo Open. My first match was against former world champion of Mexico, Saul Gutierrez. For me this was the time to see how my preparations are going and I can say that it went better than expected. After three rounds, the last round ended with a score of 25-25. To determine a winner there was another round (golden point). The person who makes the first point will be the winner. This eventually became the Mexican.

This game went very well, until I got a kick in the face during the beginning of the third round that disturbed my focus. After this kick I saw black for a few seconds, but in order not to give the Mexican the feeling that I was dizzy, I continued to attack and managed to equalize the score after falling behind. After my game I still had severe pains on the right side of my face and severe swelling started to develop. When I visited the doctor, who was present at the tournament I was told that I probably suffered a mild concussion from this kick in the face. I was also told that it would be better to analyze how heavy this blow was if I did not fight through it. I was advised to continue to ice my face and was given a painkiller against the pain.


After I returned to the USA the swelling had not subsided and I still had a splitting headache and tension in my face. I decided to go to the doctor who then advised me to go to the emergency room for a CT scan. This CT scan indicated that I had fractures in my face from that blow and was admitted for a few days at the Aventura hospital. Eventually I was seen by a facial specialist who told me it does not require surgery, but a rest of at least two to three months. This news was supposed to be good news but was horrible for me because I only had approximately three weeks until the Olympic qualifiers.


After I was discharged from the hospital with the advice to take it easy for two to three months, I went to training the next day. I kept looking at my calendar how much time I had to prepare for the qualifying tournament that was two weeks away and was due to be held on March 11 and 12, 2020.

The first day I was taking it easy because of the pain I was having. I only did flexibility exercises and balance. The second day I did some movements that did not cause too much pain, but the more I looked at my calendar, the more I got the urge to pick up the thread and realize my Olympic dream. The third day after being discharged from the hospital, I started training more intensively and ended my week with a tough Saturday morning workout. This training started with a taekwondo training and completed my training with an intense training in the park. After this training I felt relieved and got more hope and my future to be an Olympian was bright again, although I was in a lot of pain during this whole week of training. I continued the day with my mother who took a loan and flew to America to support me during this difficult period.


The next day about three o’ clock in the morning I woke up feeling unwell. With a severe headache (like other days) and severe body aches, I went to the restroom and started vomiting. This did not stop immediately. After forcing myself to stop I managed to take a cold bath and went back to bed. Shortly after I had to rush to the restroom because of diarrhea. In addition to the daily headache, this was a terrible period that I wanted to pass as soon as possible. After talking to some doctors thru the phone in Suriname about my health, I was told that this could be the effect of no rest and intense training after that hard blow I received during the tournament. I need to rest!

After eventually choosing to rest for a few days, it became more difficult mentally to stay focused and happy. I was supposed to see the facial specialist again, but after I was told what my hospital bill is going to be and not clear if my insurance will cover it, it was a safer step for me  to consult with third parties first.


Eventually I managed to see a doctor in America for advice through some networks of my coach. Here I was told clearly that I should not participate in the qualification tournament that would be in a week. The doctor had informed me that if I get hit in the same place, chances are that I would no longer be able to move my eye, go blind, or damage my eye completely. “This is not worth an Olympic sport,”, the doctor said. At this point, I had to hold back my tears. When I went back where I was staying, I informed my coaches with the news and they advised me the same. This was one of a difficult decision I had to make. Looking back at all the sacrifices I have made and not being able to realize my dream of being the first Surinamese Taekwondo athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games 2020.

I am currently in Suriname and have followed the qualifying tournament over the internet with a broken heart, but not a broken spirit. I am now on both feet, healthy and well.

The only chance I got to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games 2021 is through a wild card. I am still hopeful to receive a wild card that has already been requested. This will give me the chance to live my dream and write history as the first taekwondo athlete that will compete during the Olympic Games. So, I ask to please keep supporting me on my way to the Olympic Games 2021, because when I do get this wild card, I WILL BE READY!