For most of his career, Hiroyasu Shimizu has counted as one of the world’s best 500 m skaters. He has taken the 500 m World title five times (1996, 1998-2001) and won Olypmic gold and silver in the distance. In 1995, 1997 and 2001, he also won the overall World Cup for this distance. Shimizu’s 1000 m was generally weaker, although he has won Olympic bronze and two World Championship medals in the event. Due to his weaker long sprint, Shimizu has never been able to win the World Sprint title. With three silvers, three bronzes and three fourth places, he is the best sprinter never to win the title. After winning the Olympic gold in 1998, Shimizu became the first man to break the 35-second barrier, setting his third of four 500 m World Records. His last World Record (34.42 in 2001) won him the Oscar Mathisen Trophy in for the year’s best speed skating performance. As the first Japanese speed skater to win an Olympic gold medal, Shimizu is a skating hero in his own country. This has allowed him to become the country’s first professional speed skater, and to continue racing well past his prime. In 2010, Shimizu will attempt to qualify for his fifth Olympics.
Personal Bests: 500 – 34.42 (2001); 1000 – 1:09.07 (2003); 1500 – 1:51.13 (2000); 5000 – 7:56.30 (1990).