At 42 years old, Simon has been in the sport for two decades having started as a university student. Winning gold at his first Olympic Games, in 1996, firmly established Simon on the national team and London will be his fifth Olympics.

Simon will race in the final of the men’s eight on Wednesday 1 August at 12:30pm (GMT).

A relaxed Simon was happy to be interviewed and described racing at London as being just as special as his other Olympic Games. He has been the focus of the Dutch media as a five-time Olympian and also to be so good at his age. His team mates call him, ‘Opa’ or grandpa and he claims he has no leadership role in the boat. “They lead me,” he says.

Simon has no problem with continued motivation in rowing with the Olympics always being his focus. Along with self motivation Simon is known for his individualism. As an example, Simon chose to auction off his 1996 Olympic gold medal as a fundraiser for his rowing club, Nereus.

After the 2004 Olympic Games and a silver medal to add to his collection, Simon took a break from competitive rowing and became a coach. But the pull of another Olympics brought Simon back to the national team in 2007.

Simon has moved around in the boat. In 2008 he raced in the stroke seat, for these Games he sits in two-seat, and says has no issue with moving around.

Leading up to these Olympics the Dutch men’s eight had a bit of a bumpy road with a last minute change of coach. But Simon says pragmatically, “It’s important that kind of thing happens as it makes you sharp. As long as the level of rowing is getting better, and it is. We now concentrate not on 20 things, but on a few things (to make the boat go better).”

“This team is good. It’s difficult to say if it is the best team, but it’s absolutely a team with potential.”

The Dutch men’s eight were third in their heats on the first day of racing at the London Olympics. This meant that they had to race in the repechage two days later. They finished third earning them a spot in the final.

The crew that will line up, representing the Netherlands is Sjoerd Hamburger, Diederik Simon, Rogier Blink, Matthijs Vellenga, Roel Braas, Jozef Klaassen, Olivier Siegelaar, Mitchel Steenmand and coxswain Peter Wiersum.