Ireen Wüst is the 1st athlete to win individual gold at 5 Olympics : NPR


Ireen Wüst of Team Netherlands skates en route to setting a new Olympic record in the women’s 1500 meters at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

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Ireen Wüst is the 1st athlete to win individual gold at 5 Olympics : NPR

Ireen Wüst of Team Netherlands skates en route to setting a new Olympic record in the women’s 1500 meters at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

Elsa/Getty Images

Dutch Ireen Wüst wrote all kinds of stories at the Beijing Olympics on Monday when she became the first athlete to win an individual gold medal at five Olympics. The speed skater’s victory in the 1,500 meters sets her apart from greats like Michael Phelps and Carl Lewis.

Wüst was just 19 when she won her first gold medal, at the Turin Olympics in 2006. After her last win, she said it was “just weird” that she was still winning the gold every four years.

“There is something magical about me when it comes to the Games,” she said. “There’s something that brings out the best in me.”

This is her sixth gold medal out of 12 in total, for a speed skater like no other.

In a tightly contested 1500 meter race, Wüst’s winning time of 1:53.28 also set a new Olympic record. It was just enough to beat Japan’s Miho Takagi, the event’s world record holder, who finished in 1:53.72.

Wüst, 35, intends to retire after the Beijing Games. But she rules out the idea that she might be getting too old to compete – a point she emphatically made at the Beijing National Speed ​​Skating Oval, aka The Ice Ribbon.

“Age is just a number. It’s just how you feel. I’m not like, ‘I’m 35, I’m too old,’ no,” she said. declared. After feeling great all week, she added: “To have a race like this next is just amazing. I just have no words for it.”

Wüst said it would take time for her to fully realize what she has achieved.

“It’s really hard to describe,” she said. “A lot of emotions, especially the good ones. I don’t realize it yet. It’s crazy, actually.”

Even before the start of Monday’s 1,500-meter race, Wüst had already established herself as the most decorated Olympic speed skater of all time. And when the shot rang out, she set a blistering pace, showing the power and efficiency that propelled her record-breaking career.

“On rollerblades, we reach 55 km/h [about 34 mph] on a thin blade a few millimeters wide,” Wüst told Univé magazine in 2020. “It’s such a beautiful and complex movement. I love the challenge of perfecting this and continuing to break down new barriers. I haven’t skated the perfect race yet.”

Wust’s trainer Gerard van Velde said Monday’s race was among his best performances.

“It’s one of the best 1500m races she’s ever run, and again she does it when it really matters,” he said. “It’s a gift, and that’s why she’s the Netherlands’ greatest Olympian.”

It’s a rare asset, added van Velde, for a skater to maintain composure while facing tremendous pressure in a race. Wüst needed little coaching, he said, as she resisted the urge to rush her technique late in the race.

“Wüst also stands out as the most decorated Dutch Olympian, LGBTQ Olympian and Olympic speed skater,” NBC Sports reports. Wust is the oldest speed skater to win Olympic gold, the network adds.

This story first appeared in morning edition live blog.


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