Suzanne Schulting from the Netherlands is the first woman to earn four short track speed skating medals at a single Olympic Games.
Schulting collected the bronze in Wednesday’s 1500m final, her third individual podium finish of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The 24-year-old will also take home gold medals for victories in the women’s 1000m — for the second straight Olympics — and 3000m relay, as well as a silver from the 500m.
Viktor Ahn is the only other short track athlete to earn four medals in one Olympics, doing so in 2006 for South Korea.
“I feel really proud,” Schulting said after the 1500m. “I did an amazing job on the 1000m, I am so proud of that. Also, on the relay, it’s amazing we took gold with the team … We fought so hard to show the world, and especially the people in the Netherlands, that we are also able to get gold medals in short track.”
The Netherlands is the dominant country in long track speed skating with the most medals in Olympic history. Its success has continued in 2022, as the Dutch have gained 10 medals in 11 events including four golds to lead all other countries.
That historical prevalence has not been the case in short track, but Schulting wants to be a part of the generation to change that.
Schulting started off in long track, but she practiced short track to work on her turns and stuck with it. She became the first Dutch skater to earn an individual short track gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics at 20 years old.
“We always have been so good on long track and everyone was watching long track saying, ‘Ah, they’re going to take the gold, they’re going to take the gold,'” Schulting said. “Now (short track) is really upcoming, so I think that’s great.”
The Dutch won the women’s 3000m relay gold medal for the first time this year after finishing third in 2018.
Schulting ran the anchor leg and skated to her teammates to celebrate after crossing the finish line and setting the Olympic record.
The winning quartet of Schulting, Yara van Kerkhof, Xandra Velzeboer and Selma Poutsma blew a kiss above them on the podium to Lara van Ruijven, their teammate who died of an autoimmune disorder in 2020 at 27 years old.
“She is still in our team and she is always in our minds and in our hearts.” van Kerkhof said. “She was a big reason we had so much fun in this sport, and she is a big reason why we are here.”
Schulting made it a mission of hers to become world champion at the 500m, the same title her friend van Ruijven earned in 2019. She reached that goal in 2021.
After earning the silver medal in the sprint distance at the Olympics, she said she was a bit disappointed but called the result a “good start.”
There is still more to achieve at the Olympics for Schulting. With the addition of the mixed team relay this year, collecting five short track medals at one Olympics is now possible, and she will be only 28 years old by 2026.
“When you get a little taste of it, or you feel how it is to win the gold, you want more and more and more,” Schulting told Olympics.com in 2021.