Gerard Pieter Hendrik van Velde (born 30 November 1971 in Wapenveld, Gelderland) is a retired Dutch speedskater, and was specialised in sprinting.
He was considered the best Dutch sprinter during the early 1990s, but did not manage to win a medal in either the 1992 or 1994 Winter Olympics. The 1992 Games were particularly frustrating, as he missed a bronze medal by only one-hundredth of a second.
During the late 1990s, clap skates became standard in Olympic competition. Van Velde had such difficulty adjusting to the techniques required with these new skates that he retired from skating and became a car salesman. However, he was not finished with the skating world.
Rintje Ritsma, another Dutch skater invited van Velde to be his training partner, and, during training, he mastered the clap skate techniques. He decided to try out for the 2002 Winter Olympics, in spite of the arrival of a new generation of Dutch sprinters such as Jan Bos, Erben Wennemars, and Jakko Jan Leeuwangh. Van Velde became the fourth sprinter to qualify for the games.
In Salt Lake City, he started before all the other favorites and raced to a world-record finish with a time of 1:07.18. This time shaved more than half a second from the previous best world time, and more than a second from his personal best. The skaters who followed were unable to best him, and he won the gold medal.
In December 2005, at the Dutch Olympic Trials in Heerenveen, Van Velde failed to qualify for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
Full article ▸