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13 Nov 2006
IOC News

Bob de Jong: Speed in the Blood

For many years now, Bob de Jong has skated at top speed on ice rinks worldwide. Today, this lively athlete is heading for 30 - a symbolic birthday which gives us the opportunity to find out more about this skater with the unusual name.
A rollercoaster of an Olympic journey
At 22, Bob de Jong took part for the first time in the Olympic Winter Games in 1998 in Nagano. This young Dutchman competed in two speed-skating events: the 5,000m and the 10,000m. Already having taken part in the World Championships in 1998 (taking bronze at 10,000m), he reaffirmed his talent in Nagano by finishing 10 seconds after his victorious compatriot Gianni Romme. He took the silver medal in the 10,000m, but just missed out on a medal in the 5,000m (coming 4th). His first Winter Games was therefore a success and confirmed the young athlete. From then on, he was there to stay in speed skating.
In 2002, at the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the fans waited impatiently for Bob’s new performances. Unfortunately, he was not on top form: placing 30th in the 5,000m and 15th in the 10,000m. Disappointment was felt by the athlete and public alike.
Not wanting to finish on a low, he once again pulled on his skates for the Turin 2006 Games. Eight years after his first Olympic medal, the Dutch skater surprised everyone again in the 10,000m. Indeed, he beat the favourite, America’s Chad Hedrick, with a time of 13:01.57 and took a step up to the top podium, seizing the gold medal. This feat placed him firmly in Olympic history.
The “Diesel” of the ice
In reference to his sluggish starts, Bob de Jong was dubbed “Diesel”, a nickname which becomes clear with regard to his remarkable career at the World Championships. Since 1997, he has won four gold medals, seven silver and two bronze (all events combined) - a list of titles which once again confirms him as one of the best contemporary speed skaters.
A national discipline
Speed skating was born in the Netherlands. What was first a way of travelling along frozen canals became an official sport in 1863. This discipline has always been on the Winter Games programme. Immersed in this sport since childhood, Bob was thus able to apply his origins for the good of the discipline.
Bob de Jong is an athlete who reflects the Olympic spirit: a motivated skater who could pick himself up and push himself to the limit.
See you in Vancouver, Bob!
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