Irene Schouten, the queen of speed skating, announces her retirement after a golden season

Irene Schouten, the queen of speed skating, has announced her retirement from the sport after a golden season. The Dutch skater, who won three Olympic gold medals in Beijing and three world titles in Calgary, said she was ready for a new phase of life.

Schouten, 31, made the announcement on her social media on Monday, a day after the end of the World Speed Skating Championships in Calgary, where she dominated the women’s events. She won gold medals in the 3,000m, the mass start, and the team pursuit, and a silver medal in the 5,000m.

“I have achieved what I wanted,” Schouten wrote. “After the Olympic year, I realized that it would be difficult to commit directly to a new four-year Olympic cycle. So I decided to watch it a year. This past weekend showed me that I’m in top form and still enjoy the games. Feeling strong and skated last few days even my fastest laps ever. But I also realize that there is a life next to the top sport. I’m really looking forward to that too. Lately I’ve been thinking hard and decided that this will be my last season. Now that the decision has been made, it feels good to share this right away.”

Schouten made history in Beijing as the first speed skater to win three golds at a single Olympics

Schouten made history in Beijing as the first speed skater to win three golds at a single Olympics. She broke the Olympic records in the 3,000m and the 5,000m, and also won the mass start, a new event introduced in 2018. She also won a bronze medal in the team pursuit, adding to the one she won in 2018.

Schouten, who started her career as a marathon skater, made her breakthrough in 2009-2010, when she won junior world cup races in the 3,000m event. She made her senior debut in 2011, and won her first world cup medal in 2014. She became the world champion in the mass start in 2015, and defended her title in 2017 and 2019. She also won the European allround title in 2018.

Schouten said she was proud of her achievements and grateful for the support she received from her family, friends, coaches, teammates, sponsors, and fans. She said she had no regrets and was happy to end her career on a high note.

“I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved in my career,” Schouten said. “I’ve always given everything and enjoyed every moment. I’ve had ups and downs, but I’ve always come back stronger. I’ve had amazing experiences and met wonderful people. I want to thank everyone who has been part of my journey and who has helped me along the way. I’m happy to end my career with a bang and to go out with a smile.”

Schouten looks forward to a new life after the top sport and wishes the best for her successors

Schouten looks forward to a new life after the top sport and wishes the best for her successors. She said she was excited to pursue other interests and goals, and to spend more time with her loved ones. She also said she would remain a fan of speed skating and would support the young talents who would follow in her footsteps.

“I’m excited to start a new life after the top sport,” Schouten said. “I have many other passions and ambitions that I want to explore and fulfill. I also want to have more time for my family and friends, who have always been there for me. I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my life.

“I will always love speed skating and I will always follow the sport. I’m happy to see that there are many talented skaters who will continue to make the Netherlands proud. I wish them all the best and I will cheer for them. I hope they will enjoy the sport as much as I did.”

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