Aafke van Leeuwen, Bronze medallist in the Ju-jitsu Mixed Team event at The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama in August, won her fourth World Championship gold medal in Ju-jitsu earlier this month just before retiring from international competition. She won an individual Bronze at TWG in Wroclaw in 2017. More than deservedly, she is The World Games Athlete of November 2022!
Now aged 30, van Leeuwen has competed in Ju-jitsu since she was a child. Her elder brother went to Judo classes and she and her mother always picked him up afterwards. “I immediately fell in love with the sport, and wanted to be like the cool kids with a white ‘ninjasuit’! Later I also tried Ju-jitsu, which I loved even more,” she says.
From that point on, she trained hard and built up her performance standard to become one of the most successful Ju-jitsu competitors in The Netherlands. She has won the World Championships in her class (-70 kg) in 2015, 2017, 2019 and now in 2022, in addition to her two TWG Bronze medals. This year in TWG she finished fourth.
Van Leeuwen’s studies led to her becoming a Master in Sports Management, and she works as a Life-style Manager at Sport Gouda in southern Holland, where her work is in helping people become more physically active through innovative exercises.
Her Ju-jitsu team base is also in Gouda; during Covid the training and competition opportunities were very limited, and for a period the team trained at home or in a tent outside their training base – “I got frozen feet in winter!” she says. “The best thing about Ju-jitsu is my team, who are also my close friends. I lost at TWG this time, but won in life with such lovely people around me ❤”.
As The World Games Athlete of the Month, Aafke van Leuween will receive The World Games Athlete of the Month diploma as well as a branded gift from The World Games.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.