For Dutch hockey superstar Ties Kruize, it looked as though there was nowhere to go but up. By the age of 21, he had not only competed in the 1972 Olympics Games but had become a World Champion, helping the Netherlands secure the Gold Medal against India in a nail-biting final that was decided with penalty strokes after the game had finished in a 2-2 tie.
In 1975, his amazing flow of success looked like it had come to an end when Ties was in a horrible car crash, an incident which he barely survived. The bone in his upper thigh was crushed entirely, leaving a gap of 10 centimeters. Ties says, “In the beginning, I was glad to have survived. But after a while, your mind strays back to playing hockey again. The doctors did not think I would be able to walk properly again and they were quite pessimistic. But the more people thought I would not succeed in walking, let alone playing hockey, the more anxious I became to prove them wrong.” And he did just that; after a year and a half of rehabilitation and training four times a day, and with the help of a steadfast positive mentality, Ties stepped back onto the field to play his first match since the accident.
Ties ended his career with 202 international matches played for the Netherlands, scoring a total of 167 goals. He became a two-time Olympian, a six-time Hockey World Cup athlete, and added a European Championship to his list of athletic accomplishments. With his home club, he won eight Dutch titles in a row from 1977 to 1983. Everyone, even his doctors and close friends and family, believed that the car accident would leave Ties unable to play ever again, but he refused to accept defeat. Through strength of both body and mind, Ties blew everyone away by not just returning to the game but coming back stronger than ever.
Ties resilience and fortitude are truly inspiring. If he can come back from an accident that nearly took his life, let alone his chances of playing again, we must ask ourselves what is standing in the way of our path to greatness. His story shows that you can surpass many expectations if you put your mind to it, no matter how many times you are told your goal is too far out of reach. You make your own destiny, just like Ties did.
Ties Kruize retired as a Dutch and world hockey legend, and he remains famous for being an ace penalty corner striker. Ask yourself this: despite any barriers that may stand in my way, what will my legacy be?
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