Roos De Jong (b), Lisa Scheenaard (s), Women's Double Sculls, Netherlands, 2020 Olympic Games Regatta, Tokyo, Japan / World Rowing/Detlev Seyb

She’s not just fast on the water. The Dutch sculler, who just qualified for the first Olympic A-Final of her career, designed the rowing unisuit that Team Netherlands is wearing in Tokyo.

For Roos de Jong, passionate about design alongside her academic work in architecture, this is the culmination of a project that started two years ago. “I was asked if I would like to help for the design of the Dutch national rowing kit.  I was super excited but also super stressed, knowing that it would be the one worn in Tokyo by all my teammates and seen all over the world.”

The design of the unisuit is inspired by the drawings of Japanese artist Mori Yuzan from his book ‘Ha Mon Shu’. The books featured various traditional Japanese wave designs and were created to serve as inspiration for local craftsmen to decorate their swords, shields and other weapons. The Japanese waves represent strength and good luck.

“The artwork from Japan is fascinating, has a lot of inspiration from the sea, the ocean, the power of nature,” says De Jong. “Together with Bjorn Van Den Ende (Member of the Dutch M8+) we’ve used a pattern of one of the drawings, and the challenge was to combine this drawing with the colours – the unisuit had to be mainly white, to help and reduce the effect of the heat in Tokyo, with some orange, which is our national colour.”

The result is a nice, uncommon, not-too-flashy rowing kit, to help the Dutch team “brave the waves and fight for the honour of the Oranje.”

Eline Berger (c), Men’s Eight, Netherlands, 2020 Olympic Games Regatta, Tokyo, Japan / World Rowing/Igor Meijer

For De Jong, this design project was also a good way to shift her focus from the hard training sessions. “It required a lot of work, but actually, being able to concentrate on something else other than training is very helpful. It has been a very challenging period, with Covid, lockdowns, postponement of the Olympic Games. We never know what’s going to happen next.”

The Dutch rowers have been wearing their new unisuit very proudly on the Sea Forest Waterway – much to the delight of Roos de Jong. “My teammates are really positive about it, and that makes me happy. This is probably the most important race of their lives and they have to feel good wearing it.”

She herself is about to face the most important race of her life, with the A-Final of the women’s double sculls Wednesday, De Jong must be hoping the Japanese waves on her unisuit will give her enough strength and good luck to win a gold medal.

Instagram / Roos De Jong