About Kelly

“Most of you know me as Kelly van Zon, the table tennis player. This is how I want to introduce you to Kelly, the daughter, sister, friend and colleague of. You are getting to know the most cherished people in my life. The people I am proud of. They are partly responsible for the athlete and the person standing before you now.”

Data of birth

Birthplace

Nickname

Age

Nationality

Coach

Back hand rubber

Style of play

Forehand rubber

Start career

Disciplines

... and The rest is history

I, Kelly van Zon (September 15, 1987) started playing table tennis at the age of 8. My father was a member of the local club in Dongen and there was the first time I picked up a paddle. I also did tennis, karate and swimming, but in table tennis I noticed that I could keep up with the able-bodied players.

Through my trainer in Dongen, I came into contact with the national paratafeltennis coach as a 14-year-old. Initially, I wanted nothing to do with it. “I didn’t feel disabled at all. I went to watch, but on the way back I said to my father: there’s no way I’m going to do that! I don’t have anything to do with all those handicapped people, do I? But we went back anyway and then I saw how good they were- despite their handicap. They shared stories of international tournaments and ther travels to compete. I was impressed and at that moment I decided to give it a try. The rest is History. 

From the very beginning, I received so much support from the people in my life. They have played a important role in the accomplishments I have been privileged to achieve. I’m referring to my family, friends, and my coach. 

Kelly van Zon

Paralympic Games 2022

Family

I realize that I was extremely lucky with how I was raised. I was always given the space to be able to develop myself. And not as a disabled girl but as an independent strong personality. 

My family is the core of my support system. They are my biggest supporters, encouragers and comforters in both the highs and lows of my sports career. Their unconditional belief in my abilities gives me a lot of strength to keep going, every day.

The picture below says it all. I did not hesitate for a moment. Immediately after my final win, I grabbed my phone and called my family. Dad, Mom, Kim and Grandma, this one is for you!

Kelly van Zon

Facetime with my family after the final

Kelly van Zon

My grandma is my biggest fan

Kelly van Zon

With my parents to the King

Johan Lieftink, My coach

Let me introduce you to my coach, Johan Lieftink. He’s been my coach for a solid 15 years, guiding me through all the highs and lows of my sporting journey. Over the years, we’ve developed a deep mutual understanding. Johan comprehends my game like no other and has a keen insight into my mental state when I’m at the table. He knows precisely how to adapt to my mental needs during play, whether it’s a moment to give me space or a time to coach me intensely towards victory.

I firmly believe that our strength lies in the fact that we share an incredibly strong personal bond and a foundation of honesty. With Johan, I can be completely myself. I can openly express my emotions, whether they are positive or negative; nothing is off the table. The combination of technical expertise and our strong personal connection makes Johan the coach with whom I can achieve championship-winning results.

Of course, there are moments when our long years of collaboration can present challenges. Johan, for example, knows exactly how to push my buttons and get under my skin, and it can be quite amusing haha. Fortunately, I can return the favor. These shared moments of laughter are all part of our unique bond.

Kelly van Zon

Meet my coach: Johan Lieftink

Kelly van Zon

WE DID IT! Gold at Tokio 2021

Friends

There are two things that truly matter: friendships and family. Does that mean that sports don’t come first? Well, in my case, no. Of course, I put my heart and soul into it, making numerous sacrifices along the way, and I will continue to do so. But all the time I can dedicate to my friends and family, I do. Isn’t that what life is all about?

My friends serve as a enormous source of motivation. They treat me just as Kelly, because, after all, I’m just a regular person. It’s incredibly refreshing and to be honest, that is the version of myself i feel the most comfortable. Nearly my entire life revolves around table tennis and the pressures of high-performance competition. With them, I can momentarily set that aside and create fantastic memories together.

Yet, during the most important sports moments, they’re there for me as front-row supporters. Often, they assist me with cheerful rides to the airport, or they’re even in arenas around the world, cheering me on. It’s hard to all names here, but those I’m referring to know precisely that it’s about them.

Kelly van zon

Main sponsors