“Meeting Arnold, that’s my dream”, Niek Lauwers told in many interviews he gave. A dream which already happened four times. “The first time I’ve met him, was at Planet Hollywood in Amsterdam. That was the place where I gave him my presscard as official lookalike. A while later I got a letter from El-Sonbaty, a famous bodybuilder and a good friend of Arnold. A year before I’ve had to announce him on a bodybuildingcontest in Amsterdam. He wrote: “Come to the Arnold Classics In Columbus (Ohio, United States) and everybody will think you’re Arnold.” With the help of thearnoldfans.com (visit links), they contacted the Arnold Classic Weekend organization. This weekend would mean so much to Niek and change his life. So sit back and let him tell you about “the days of high adventure”
Niek’s big journey started on March 1st. His bags were packed and together with his wife Betty he was ready for the big trip to the Arnold Classic Weekend in Columbus Ohio. When he entered the airplane everybody was stunned that Arnold was sitting among the “normal” people, and everybody (including the flight’s personnel) wanted a signature of Arnold’s twin brother. Pictures were taken, hugs were given and Niek already felt like a celebrity although he still had to meet the REAL celebrity. After the journey (which took almost 13 hours) Niek checked into the hotel where he would stay during the weekend. After checking in he walked towards the elevator to go to his room. That moment another remarkable event happened. The doors opened and two width shouldered bodybuilders came out of the elevator. They looked at Niek and said: “Hey Arnold, see you tommorow.” Niek was stunned and didn’t knew what to say, but before he could say anything the guys were already disappeared. Niek knew many people saw him as Arnold, but Arnold’s friends? On Friday March the 3th, Niek’s big adventure would really start. Packed with some promotion materials and a camera Niek was ready to go to the Classic. But first, the magic tickets, which could bring him closer to his idol. Niek bought his tickets and from that moment on it started! People went nuts. Niek was surrounded by fans, actresses, bodybuilders and models who all wanted one thing: a signature and picture with Arnold! But the real Arnold still had to come. And he did! Surrounded by bodyguards and security the big man made his entree and Niek tried to get as close as he could. He screamed for Arnold and handed him a promotion postcard showing “The Dutch Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike”! Arnold, who got pushed through the mass of people by the security, looked at the card and grinned (see picture. He looked back, but Niek was already out of his sight.) Overwhelmed by Friday’s event Niek started a new fresh day on Saturday. Pictures were taken, television channels (such as NBC) interviewed Niek, signatures were given away and everybody was screaming one name “ARNOLD”! The spectacle didn’t stop and it became even better.
When Niek walked past a Merchandise-Stand, the salesman screamed his name, “Arnold, Here take this! ” and the guy threw him an ‘Arnold Classic jacket’. Niek approached the guy and explained he couldn’t take this because he was only a look-alike, but the guy didn’t mind. If Niek would stay a bit longer to promote the jackets he could keep his. The salesman’s name was Toni and turned out to be one of Arnold’s close friends too. Toni didn’t believe he wasn’t talking to Arnold, but to his look-alike. At the stand everybody started to take pictures of Niek with his new jacket on. The only words that could be heard were “Incredible!” and “Amazing!” coming out of the people’s mouths. This is what Niek and his wife had dreamed of for a long time, and finally it happened. He was “famous”!
With his Jacket he even caught more attention and many friends of Arnold wanted to be photographed with Niek. Lou Ferrigno, El-Sonbaty, Arnold’s former trainer Kurt Marnul and many others shared a moment with Niek to take a picture! Suddenly a girl approached Niek and asked if he would mind if her Award Winning Cheerleaders team could take a couple of pictures of him and the team. Niek didn’t mind and went onstage while more than 10,000 were screaming for more. The flashlights of cameras didn’t stop and Niek couldn’t get enough of this. Niek didn’t believe what happened: “Am I really doing this, am I going to make it in the States?”, he thought. An applause finished his on stage entree and he waved while getting off stage like Arnold used to do after every bodybuilding contest he won. The trainer who asked him to get on stage approached him again and asked “Are you him, or are you his stand-inn?”. Of course Niek told her who he really was and after a hug and a kiss she made clear she was very grateful for what he did. The day was almost over, so Niek and his wife went outside to go to the shopping center to eat something after this incredible day. In front of the building a HUGE limousine was parked with a driver standing next to it. The driver opened the door and nodded towards Niek to enter the car. Niek thanked him, but told him he wasn’t the real Arnold. Stunned, but very pleased by the surprise the driver asked a signature and Niek went to the mall.
While enjoying a pizza Niek’s wife suddenly went nuts, “THERE’S ARNOLD,” she screamed. Niek didn’t knew what happened. He spit his pizza out and ran toward Arnold who was walking through the shopping center with his wife Maria. Niek walked up to Arnold and said: “Hello Arnold, yesterday I gave you my postcard, I am your look-alike”. Stunned Arnold gave his clone a hand but didn’t say anything. For Niek this was a dream, but because Arnold had a private moment with his wife Niek padded Arnold on his shoulder and said. “I’ll leave you alone now, we’ll see each other at the dinner tomorrow!”. Niek walked back to his seat and Arnold moved on. Both overwhelmed by the moment and Niek’s day couldn’t end better. The next day the bodybuilding finalist was announced: Ronny Coleman became this year’s Arnold Classic Champion, but that didn’t matter to Niek, he was thinking about his next meeting with his “clone”. Niek had bought a VIP package, which included a picture with Arnold. So, among more than 1000 peoples Niek waited till his picture could be taken. Niek walked towards Arnold, gave him a hand, and the picture was taken. Before they could talk to each other Niek got pushed away again and another experience finished. That evening the banquet was ready for all the hungry fans and Arnold would be in the room too, to enjoy the food. His table was separated from the “normal” people, but Niek’s table was only 3 tables away from Arnold, so he could see everything Arnold did. During the banquet Arnold went onstage, gave away a little speech, and walked back to his table surrounded by security. This would be another opportunity for Niek to talk to Arnold. Niek walked towards the red carpet as fast as he could and screamed “ARNOLD PLEASE” when he walked by. Arnold heard this, turned around, walked back 1 meter and shake Niek’s hand again. “Hasta la vista, I’ll be Back!”, said Niek.
The next day Niek did not see Arnold at the Expo anymore, but people didn’t mind, after all, Niek was their Arnold. It was a very busy day again and at the end of the Expo Ron Coleman, the years Arnold Classic winner, came in. He stopped at Toniâ’s stand and wanted to have a picture with Arnold (Niek). While leaving the Expo after posing down with Coleman, Niek went outside while a camerateam stopped him and couldnâ€™t believe they could actually interview Arnold. As usual Niek explained who he was, but that didn’t matter to them. They wanted to air a live interview with Niek on ABC news and everything went perfect. With that interview the weekend was over. I had finally met my twin brother and I hope to meet him again soon… but that’s another story.