The best Dutch sprinter of the early 1990s, Gerard van Velde’s international breakthrough came in 1992. At the World Sprint Championships, he finished sixth, and he narrowly missed a medal at the Olympics, finishing fourth in the 1000 m, just 0.08 seconds from the gold. With the advent of the clap skate in 1997/1998, Van Velde was unable to keep up with the new equipment. After missing the Nagano Olympics, he was close to retiring when he was asked to serve as a training partner by Rintje Ritsma. This marked the start of a second career, leading to a fourth place at the World Sprint Championships in 2002. At the Olympics that same year, Van Velde again finished fourth, missing the bronze by just 0.02 seconds. Considering the 500 his best shot at a medal, Van Velde had nothing to lose in the 1000 m and went all out. He broke the World Record in the event by half a second, a time that remained unapproached for Van Velde. Having won his first international medal, Van Velde also finally made the podium in the World Sprints, finishing second in his 11th appearance, and at the World Single Distance Championships, finishing 2nd in the 1000 m. Gerard van Velde kept going for several more years, eventually retiring in 2008 with 18 Dutch titles under his belt (6 sprint, 8 500 m, 4 1000 m). Winner of 6 World Cups, finishing 2nd in the 1000 m ranking twice, Van Velde became a coach after his retirement, working for the commercial APPM team as of 2009.
Personal Bests: 500 – 34.59 (2004); 1000 – 1:07.18 (2002); 1500 – 1:48.53 (2004).