The first great Estonian winter athlete, Ants Antson excelled in athletics, playing tennis and ice hockey as a youth, before taking up speed skating. In 1963 Antson began training under Olympic Champion Boris Shilkov, and soon established himself as one of the top skaters in the world. The 1964 season was probably Antson’s best season. At first he won his first Soviet distance title at 5,000 m, was second at 10,000 m and finished in fifth position in the all-around. Next he made his international début at the 1964 European All-around Championships, where he won the all-around title while finishing first in the 1,500 and second in the 500. At the 1964 Olympics, Antson won the only gold medal for Soviet male speed skaters, in the 1,500, and was fifth in the 10K. After the Olympics, Antson set his only World Record, clocking 4:27.3 over 3,000 m at Oslo. At the 1964 World All-around Championships Antson won bronze in the 1,500 m and 5,000 m, but lost the all-around title due to a fall in the 500, settling for a disappointing 15th place. After the 1964 season, Antson was named the best speed skater of the season and was awarded the Oscar Mathisen Trophy. In 1965 Antson won a silver in the all-around at the Soviet Championships and a bronze at the 1,500 m at the European All-around Championships. In 1966 he was third in the all-around at the Soviet Championships and in 1967 won his only Soviet all-around title. In 1967 he also won a Soviet title in the 1,500 and a silver (1,500) and bronze (3,000) at the European Championships, while finishing in fourth position in the all-around at both the European and World All-around Championships. Those would remain his last medals at international championships. In 1968, Antson again won silver in the all-around at the Soviet Championships and won his second Soviet title in the 1,500. Antson retired from sports after the 1968 Olympics, and began work as a sports official, first in the Soviet Estonian Committee for Physical Culture and Sports, and later with the Estonian Olympic Committee. In 1992 at Albertville, Ants Antson was selected to be the first Estonian flag bearer after the country became independent of the Soviet Union.
Personal Bests: 500 – 40.7 (1968); 1500 – 2:07.2 (1968); 5000 – 7:34.8 (1968); 10000 – 15:57.7 (1964).