Rintje Ritsma ends career



Rintje Ritsma, four times world champion allround, has announced today that he will stop with competitive speed skating. Six Olympic medals are his, but none of them gold. Otherwise, his merits are top.

Four times World Allround Champion, last time in 2001, Budapest, six times European Champion, first time in 1994, Hamar. Besides, he was twice world distance champion. Remarkable is, that these distance titles were both outdoors, and also in Budapest, we witnessed how the outdoor hero, who did not qualify other than as a reserve on the Dutch indoor qualifying competition, could profit from his chance to take a spot after all. His message was: “Never count me out!”

He was also the first one who managed to have a professional skating team, instead of training in the national team. He is the great initiator of the Teams system as we know it now, and featured in the tv commercial of his sponsor Sanex: naked in a (bubble) bath.

He skated his last lap on ‘Flevonice’ on inlines. In nature, with his little dog running with him. “My body gets older and last season for the first time I could achieve my goals. Not just competing, but also in training. A back that gets worse is partly to blame.” Well, he lasted until age 38, an achievement in itself.

He won’t be bored. Not just his hobbies (including sailing) will keep him busy. He will be a member of the Dutch committee of Ard Schenk, that tries to rejuvenate the Dutch Skating Federation KNSB and create better chances for top athletes. Besides, he is asked to help in the board of the Dutch bob sledge Federation.

Palmares:

European Champion: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.

World Champion allround: 1995, 1996 (outdoor, Inzell), 1999, 2001 (outdoor, Budapest)

World Champion 1500m and 5000m in 1997. (outdoor, Warsaw)

Olympic silver on 1500m (1994 behind Koss) and 5000m (1998 behind Romme); bronze on 1500m (1998), 5000m (1994) and 10,000m (1998). Bronze with the Dutch team in the Team Pursuit (2006).