Stephan van den Berg was the first in everything. Swept away by the windsurfing craze in the Netherlands, he only competed in his first races in 1979 at age 17. By age 18, Van den Berg would become World Champion in the triangle racing disciplines four years running. With these credentials, he was considered the top favorite for the inaugural windsurfing event held in Windgliders at the 1984 Olympics. The racing proved to be highly competitive, all vying to become the first Olympic champion of the sport. Although the heavier Van den Berg struggled in the fickle winds with an 11th place finish against the lighter competition – American Scott Steele and New Zealand's ringer Bruce Kendall looking good for gold – but then he managed to finish in the top four in all but one of his races, securing his country's first sailing gold since 1936.
Following this success, Stephan turned pro with some success, but returned in 1991 to compete at the 1992 Games. He qualified for Barcelona, where he finished 7th in the Men's Lechner A-390.
Despite not gaining another medal, Stephan was already Dutch celebrity, and would build upon his success with the help of his brothers Ron and Marco to establish the top action sports store in Hoorn. Van den Berg is still in top form in all of the sports they offer, from windsurfing to SUP racing, kiting, skiing, and now foiling.
Stephan all smiles after winning Gold at the first Olympics for windsurfing.
First Dutchman in sailing to win gold since 1936. That's all changed now, with the last three golds won by the Dutch. Stephan paved the way for future dominance. American Scott Steele getting ready to step onto the podium with silver and Bruce Kendall, NZ, for Bronze.
Noted, there was also a Windsurfer Demonstration event held on Original Windsurfers, in which Triangle racing, longboard Slalom and Freestyle were featured, won by Bruce Wylie, developer of the Windsurfer LT, which Stephan now competes in along with 2021 Olympic champion, Kiran Badloe.
L to R, Stephan, TIm Smits, Rene Griffieon., Kees van Spronsen , Harold Elfring , Willem-Jan te Riele , Lucien van Delst and Peter van Santen.
Do they have Wheaties in the Netherlands?
Klaus Maran was a favorite for Silver, but Scott Steele surprised everyone with his superior racing tactics honed from years racing dinghies like Lasers. And Bruce Kendall? He came out of nowhere with little support, long before NZ was a powerhouse name in sailing. See his bio page and hopefully Scott's in next year's induction. All of these guys have done a ton for the sport out side of just being excellent on the race course.
Stephan training on the Lechner.
Interesting list of names here.
Los Angeles 1984 (Windglider) Men Gold: Stephan van den Berg (NED) Silver: Scott Steele (USA) Bronze: Bruce Kendall (NZL) Seoul 1988 (Lechner Division II) Men Gold: Bruce Kendall (NZL) Silver: Jan Boersma (AHO) Bronze: Mike Gebhardt (USA) Barcelona 1992 (Lechner) Men Gold: Franck David (FRA) Silver: Mike Gebhardt (USA) Bronze: Lars Kleppich (AUS) Women Gold: Barbara Kendall (NZL) Silver: Zhang Xiaodong (CHN) Bronze: Dorien de Vries (NED) Atlanta 1996 (Mistral One Design) Men Gold: Nikolaos Kaklamanakis (GRE) Silver: Carlos Espinola (ARG) Bronze: Gal Fridman (ISR) Women Gold: Lee Lai Shan (HKG) Silver: Barbara Kendall (NZL) Bronze: Alessandra Sensini (ITA) Sydney 2000 (Mistral One Design) Men Gold: Christoph Sieber (AUT) Silver: Carlos Espinola (ARG) Bronze: Aaron McIntosh (NZL) Women Gold: Alessandra Sensini (ITA) Silver: Amelie Lux (GER) Bronze: Barbara Kendall (NZL) Athens 2004 (Mistral One Design) Men Gold: Gal Fridman (ISR) Silver: Nikolaos Kaklamanakis (GRE) Bronze: Nick Dempsey (GBR) Women Gold: Faustine Merret (FRA) Silver: Yin Jian (CHN) Bronze: Alessandra Sensini (ITA) Beijing 2008 (RS:X) Men Gold: Tom Ashley (NZL) Silver: Julien Bontemps (FRA) Bronze: Shahar Tzuberi (ISR) Women Gold: Yin Jian (CHN) Silver: Alessandra Sensini (ITA) Bronze: Bryony Shaw (GBR) London 2012 (RS:X) Men Gold: Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) Silver: Nick Dempsey (GBR) Bronze: Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL) Women Gold: Marina Alabau (ESP) Silver: Tuuli Petäjä (FIN) Bronze: Zofia Klepacka (POL) Rio 2016 (RS:X) Men Gold: Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) Silver: Nick Dempsey (GBR) Bronze: Pierre Le Coq (FRA) Women Gold: Charline Picon (FRA) Silver: Chen Peina (CHN) Bronze: Stefania Elfutina (RUS) Tokyo 2021 (RS:X) Men Gold: Kiran Badloe (NED) Silver: Thomas Goyard (FRA) Bronze: Kun Bi (CHI) Women Gold: Yunxiu Yu (CHN) Silver: Charline Picon (FRA) Bronze: Emma Wilson (GBR)