Speed skating: Wust, most decorated Dutch Olympian, calls time on career at 35

Dutch speed skater Ireen Wust is the Netherlands' most decorated Olympian and won 13 Olympic medals over a 16-year career. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Dutch speed skater Ireen Wust, who became the first Olympian to win gold at five different editions of the Winter Games last month, called time on her career in front of a home crowd at a World Cup event in Heerenveen on Saturday (March 12).

The 35-year-old is the Netherlands' most decorated Olympian and won 13 Olympic medals over a 16-year career, more than any other speed skater.

"Even before I skated, I already got the standing ovation," Wust said after finishing fourth in the race. "Everybody was cheering for me, so that got me really emotional.

"It was not my best 1,500 metres, but I enjoyed every second of it. I enjoyed Beijing, but this (spectators) is what you miss, we missed it for two years. The sound, it was incredible."

At Beijing 2022, Wust retained her title in the 1,500m with an Olympic record time of 1min 53.28sec, before going on to win a bronze with the Dutch team in the women's team pursuit.

Wust won 11 medals over four previous Games since her Olympic debut in Turin in 2006, where she won 3,000m gold at the age of 19.

Saturday's World Cup meeting also celebrated three-time Olympic champion Sven Kramer, who skated in his last Olympic 5,000m race in Beijing, ending ninth in an event he once dominated with three consecutive gold medals in 2010, 2014 and 2018. He also raced in the men's team pursuit where the Dutch were fourth.

"What I'll miss most is preparing for the really important moments, when you know it has to happen, and there's no excuse," Kramer said.

"That drive is nowhere else to be found in life. But I'm going to discover how things will be different."

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