UWC Athletes: Empowering Journeys, Impactful Causes

May 14, 2024

Our students and alumni push their limits both mentally and physically!

Recently, our students and alumni have been very active in the sporting world, completing a cycling course and a marathon! One of them even started a fundraiser to use this opportunity for a good cause. They both kept the UWC values of compassion and service, as well as challenging themselves personally, close to heart when participating in these thrilling events!

Amstel Gold Race

Together with his dad, Ash completed the cycling competition Amstel Gold Race! Every year, the course opens up for 15.000 civilians to ride the same route as the professionals. Ash has always been very active, practicing multiple sports in Canada. So when he came here to UWC Maastricht, he knew he had to do the Dutch thing and start cycling!

Cycling with speeds up to 65 kilometres per hour and finishing the 125 kilometre course in 5 hours and 30 minutes, Ash and his family had a very sporty weekend!


Gilles has always had a deep love for sports, starting from his early years. Dreaming of participating in a major sporting event, like a marathon, was one of his biggest ambitions. During his time at UWC Maastricht, he participated in a multitude of sports, immersed in running, ping pong, volleyball. and even dedicated his time to teaching swimming nearby. Reflecting on those days, he recalls how UWC played a significant role in broadening his perspective on people from all walks of life. UWC’s diverse community exposed him to various cultures and backgrounds, leaving a lasting impression. In Gilles’ own words, “UWC was where I truly realized what a privileged upbringing I had.” This realization fuelled his desire to make a difference with the opportunities he had.

Following his graduation from UWC Maastricht and his transition to university, joining the rowing club felt like a natural progression for Gilles. He formed deep bonds with some of his closest friends there, as the club fostered a tight-knit and sociable atmosphere. However, tragedy struck when he lost one of his dear friends to suicide. Niels van Rooijen, Gilles’ best friend and former Skadi rowing mate, left a void in his life that was deeply felt. Their shared experiences in Skadi, from their first year of rowing to entering a board year together, forged a special bond between them. Niels’ passing served as a stark reminder of the importance of mental health awareness and seeking help when needed.

Rotterdam Marathon

As the Rotterdam Marathon approached, Gilles saw an opportunity to channel his energy into something meaningful. After careful consideration, he decided to raise funds for Stichting 113 (Suicide Prevention), a cause that resonated deeply with him. Surpassing all expectations, Gilles rallied support and raised an impressive €5,777 in memory of Niels. Crossing the finish line of the marathon was not just a personal achievement but a poignant tribute to his friend’s memory.

Gilles is deeply grateful for the outpouring of support he received, both financially and emotionally. The overwhelming response from friends, family, and the SKADI community reaffirmed his belief in the power of collective action and solidarity. Moving forward, Gilles hopes to continue raising awareness about mental health issues and honouring Niels’ legacy in everything he does.