Skating in summer vacation while seeing almost nothing: ‘I know no fear’

Maaike Bennink (rechts) en haar buddy.

A lot of people look for the sun these days, but Mike Bennink from Den Bosch will soon be skiing in Switzerland. And that while you only see two percent. You get rid of it when you’re skiing down the mountain at high speed. “I just let myself go and know no fear.” After all, you want to shine in the 2026 Paralympics.

written by

Leon Voskamp

Maike worked as a nurse, until 2006 she saw almost nothing from one day to the next. Optic nerve infection causes only eight percent to see. “At first I assumed I would recover. After three years, I had to conclude it was no longer improving. I even only had 2 percent vision. Compare it to looking through a straw and then out of focus.”

She found it difficult to accept her visual impairment. “I could walk, but with aids. And it was quite a battle to use those tools.”

“I almost wet my pants with fear.”

She can no longer work as a nurse. She decided to retrain as a sports masseuse and started her own business. “In my free time I started cycling and then kayaking, but that wasn’t my thing. From a trip for the blind and visually impaired in 2012 I took a skiing lesson. Before that I had never been on skis in my life. I remember well that on the moving belt I was I almost wet my pants with fear.”

She was talented and soon afterward an invitation from the guild followed. She became the first Dutch visually impaired international skier to compete in slalom. “I’m accompanied by a companion. He helps me with everything: He tells me what the hotel looks like and what’s on my plate. Same goes for the track. When I get off, I follow my friend’s directions in my earphones and hear which way we’re going.”

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“I do my best to get the best out of myself.”

Maaike is in the top ten worldwide. “Most of the competitors were already on skates when they were kids. I don’t, even though I watched it on TV. Having no experience with it, I never really got interested in the technical part of the sport. Because of my poor eyesight, I can’t see the pictures anymore. I just Leave him and do not be afraid.”

This came in handy when I recently landed. “I reach great speeds and sometimes just get off the ground. I keep pushing my limits and getting the most out of myself.”

Her sport is very expensive, as she has to pay for excursions and companions, for example. “In the winter I hit the slopes, and other times of the year I work really hard to make it happen financially. That’s how I got there Maaike Bennink Foundation prove. It’s a busy life and it takes the necessary challenges, but I do it with passion.”

Her ultimate goal is the Paralympic Games in 2026. “My big dream: I want to shine there. Then it’s time for the new generation. I try to excite them too. You can go far if you persevere.”

Mike Bennink and her boyfriend.
Mike Bennink and her boyfriend.

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