Although an Olympic gold medal has eluded Rintje Ritsma, he is definitely one of the all time speed skating greats. In his long career, he won the World Allround Championships four times (1995, 1996, 1999, 2001) and won a record six European titles (1994-1996, 1998-2000). In addition, he has won two World distance titles (both in 1997) and six Olympic medals between 1994 and 2006. He broke the World Record in the 1500 m twice, becoming both the first man to go faster than 1:52 and 1:49. In 1996, Ritsma caused a revolution in Dutch speed skating by starting the first professional skating team. His move caused a shift in skating, with all Dutch skaters now being employed by commercial teams rather than the national federation. Ritsma’s career was often thought to have come to an end, for example when he missed qualification for the 2001 World Championships. When illness of a team mate allowed him to compete after all, he took first place - his last international title. He also surprised critics by qualifying for the 2002 and 2006 Olympics, winning a team pursuit bronze in Torino. He finally did announce his retirement in September 2008.
Personal Bests: 500 – 35.90 (1999); 1000 – 1:10.19 (1999); 1500 – 1:45.86 (2002); 5000 – 6:20.26 (2006); 10000 – 13:28.19 (1998).