Most decorated active Winter Olympian eyes career end in 2022

Ireen Wust
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Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, the most decorated active Winter Olympian with 11 medals, said she plans to finish her career with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic season, according to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Wüst, 34, ranks fourth on the career Winter Olympic medals list behind three retired Norwegians — cross-country skiers Marit Bjørgen (15 medals) and Bjørn Dæhlie (12) and biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen (13).

Wüst’s resume is arguably more impressive, given she is the lone Winter Olympian to earn individual gold medals at four different Games. The list of Summer Olympians to do so: sailors Paul Elvstrøm and Ben Ainslie, discus thrower Al Oerter, long jumper Carl Lewis, swimmer Michael Phelps and wrestler Kaori Icho.

Nobody has earned individual gold at five Olympics. Wüst can try to become the first, barring a Phelps unretirement or Icho being put on the Japanese team after at first failing to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

Wüst said her focus in Beijing will be the 1500m, defending her most recent individual Olympic title. Wüst said leading into 2018 that PyeongChang would be her last Olympics, but she kept going, earning world titles at the distance in 2019 and 2020.

If Wüst also tacks on 2022 medals in the team pursuit and the 1000m, she would move one shy of Bjørgen’s Winter Olympic medals record, set in 2018 in her final Olympic-level competition.

Come Beijing 2022, Wüst will be older than any previous Olympic speed skating champion, according to Olympedia.org. She earned her first gold at the 2006 Torino Games at age 19.

Wüst could make the Olympics her last competition or bow out at the March 2022 World Cup Final in the Netherlands.

MORE: World champion speed skater from U.S. retires

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