Although known as somewhat of a troublemaker, Hans van Helden was gifted with an excellent skating technique. After podium spots in the 1973 and 1974 European Championships, Van Helden lived up to his potential in 1976. That year, he broke two World Records (1,500 m and 5,000 m), won three Olympic bronze medals, placed third at the World Allround Championships, fourth at the World Sprint Championships (after two 1,000 m wins), won the Dutch Allround title, and became number one on the Adelskalender, the all-time combined points ranking. Despite this, Van Helden was rather disappointed with his Olympic results, citing unfortunate draws and weather circumstances. The following years, Van Helden struggled making the Dutch team and after failing to qualify for the 1980 Games, he decided to skate for France, having gained citizenship following his marriage to Marie-France Vives. As a Frenchman, he qualified for the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, and his fourth place in the Sarajevo 1,500 m was the best result by a Dutch-born skater at these Olympics. He didn’t approach his former results, but had occasional successes, winning the 1,500 m at the 1984 European Championships and taking a bronze in the 10,000 m at his final World Championships in 1988. With the 1992 Winter Olympics held in France, Van Helden attempted a comeback at age 43. Upon learning the selectors favoured a younger skater, Van Helden ended his career without completing the qualification race.
Personal Bests: 500 – 39.0 (1986); 1000 – 1:16.32 (1988); 1500 – 1:55.61 (1976); 5000 – 6:57.69 (1988); 10000 – 14:34.84 (1988).