The best Dutch sprinter of his time, Jan Ykema debuted at the World Championships aged 18. By far his best season came in 1988. He achieved his best ranking in the World Sprint Championships (6th), won all of his three World Cup races that season, and topped it off with an Olympic silver medal. After a very quick start, Ykema set a new National Record of 36.76 to finish second behind Uwe-Jens Mey of East Germany. Having won three Dutch sprint titles (1982, 1987 and 1988) and three Dutch distance titles, Ykema retirted to work in real estate. For nearly 15 years, he then struggled with a cocaine addiction. In 2008, he returned to speed skating as assistant coach of the small Dutch pro team APPM.
Personal Bests: 500 – 36.76 (1988); 1000 – 1:14.24 (1988); 1500 – 1:59.11 (1988); 5000 – 8:23.1 (1980); 10000 – 16:27.3 (1982).