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Karlijn Keijzer remembered as leader, fierce competitor

Sunday - 7/20/2014, 2:50am  ET

Karlijn Keijzer (WTOP/Justin Mitchell)
Jennifer Schultz and Cara Donley enjoyed a laugh together as they imitated the stroke in honor of Karlijn Keijzer, who died in the Malaysia plane crash. "I think when you lose a teammate it's something that really effects you, and it definitely will," Schultz said. "It will be with you forever." (WTOP/Justin Mitchell)

Teammates remember Karlijn

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WASHINGTON -- The shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 has made international headlines, but for some in the United States, the consequences are personal.

One of the passengers, Karlijn Keijzer of the Netherlands, attended Indiana University, where she pursued graduate studies and was part of the rowing team.

According to the Washington Post, she was back home for the summer and traveling with her boyfriend when the flight was shot down over Ukraine Thursday.

Two of her former teammates, Jennifer Schultz and Cara Donley, spoke with WTOP Saturday. They remember Karlijn as a competitive, friendly, and charismatic young woman.

"We didn't really know what to expect," Schultz told WTOP. "She was one of our first international recruits. Within the first couple weeks, though, she really took over as a leader."

Donley agrees.

"She just had a presence about her," she said. "She was incredibly competitive, and an incredibly confident rower. She just approached everything she did with this kind of confidence, and I think it just rubbed off on everyone on the team."

But both women said there was more to Keijzer than that.

"She was one of those people where, on the water and in races, she was fierce—you did not want to compete against her," Donley said. "But off the water, she was your best friend. She really loved everyone and wanted to get to know everyone and wanted to get to know everything about America."

Schultz and Donley both talked about Keijzer's dedication to her studies as a doctoral student in chemistry at Indiana University.

"She was really there to make a difference," Schultz said. "I know she was working on Alzheimer's research. I really believe that she put her best foot forward in everything that she did."

When asked what they would remember the most about Karlijn, both women described her memorable presence at after-practice meetings.

"Every time, it didn't matter what she said, but she always had the same hand motion she would do to imitate the rowing stroke," Conley said. "I can just see her making that same motion with her hands right now after practice."

The women enjoyed a laugh together as they imitated the stroke in honor of their departed teammate.

"I think when you lose a teammate it's something that really effects you, and it definitely will," Schultz said. "It will be with you forever."

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