Speed Skating

Hall of Fame

Born: November 30, 1971 - Wapenveld (NED)

Gerard van Velde is considered to be the best Dutch sprinter from the nineties. He started his career in 1991, when he skated his first World Cup race. His first big victory came in 1992, when Van Velde won the National Championships Sprint at the age of nineteen. In the same year, he qualified for the Olympics. The young Dutchman performed well in Albertville: he finished fifth on the 500 meters and fourth on the 1000 meters. In hindsight Van Velde was disappointed with these results. He felt like he let a great opportunity pass him by. His fourth place was especially frustrating for Van Velde as he was only 0,08 seconds away from the gold and just 0,01 seconds away from the bronze medal.

In the following years Van Velde was quite successful. He became National Champion Sprint again in 1993, 1995 and 1996. Still, besides a World Cup victory in 96, a big international victory, stayed off. When clap skates made their appearance in the sport, Van Velde decided to quit in 1998 after not being able to master the required technique. However, after one year he picked up speed skating again as a training partner of Rintje Ritsma. Van Velde worked hard and this time around he managed to come to terms with the clap skates. His comeback was completed by winning the gold medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Van Velde started early in the program and raced to the incredible time of 1:07.18. This was not only an Olympic record, but also an improvement of the world record by more than half a second. How fast his time really was, was proven by the fact that it took three years before the world record was taken from him. The Olympic record is still standing strong up until this day.

In his second life as a speed skater Van Velde won five more World Cups on both the 500 meters and the 1000 meters. He also became National Champion Sprint another two times in 2002 and 2005. These victories add up to six national sprint titles in total. Van Velde announced his retirement from the sport during the World Championships Sprint in 2008.

Rianne Mense, December 1, 2013

Career summary

Podia at championships

20021 Olympic Winter Games 1000 metersSalt Lake CityUSA
20032 World Championship Single Distances 1000 metersBerlinGER
2 World Championship SprintCalgaryCAN

World Records

11000 meters1:07.18Feb 16, 2002Salt Lake CityUSA

Personal Bests

500m0:34.59Dec 6, 2003CalgaryCAN
1000m1:07.18Feb 16, 2002Salt Lake CityUSA
1500m1:48.53Sep 26, 2004CalgaryCAN
3000m4:02.18Nov 30, 1997CalgaryCAN

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