With her victory in the 1,500-meter speed skating race at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, out bisexual speed skater Ireen Wüst became the first athlete in history to win individual gold medals in five straight Olympics. In typical fashion, she set an Olympic record time of 1 minute, 53.28 seconds in her final winning race. Wüst is also the first known out LGBTQ+ competitor at the Beijing Olympics to win a medal.
“It’s really hard to describe,” Wüst was quoted after the event by Yahoo. “A lot of emotions, especially the good ones. I don’t realize it yet. It’s insane, actually.”
Wüst, 35, has plenty of other records as well. Nobody has more Olympic medals in women’s speed skating than Wüst, and she still has the chance to move into second place overall for career Winter Olympics medals. She currently has 12 medals, with two events remaining.
She won her first Olympic gold at Torino in 2006, and followed with gold medal wins at Vancouver in 2010, Sochi in 2014, and Pyeongchang in 2018. She had been in a tie with several other athletes including American track star Carl Lewis and swimmer Michael Phelps. Wüst is also the most successful Olympic athlete in the Netherlands.
While Wüst came up victorious in the event, out Team USA member Brittany Bowe finished 10th place in her quest for her first Olympic medal. Despite the loss, Bowe was dignified and supportive in congratulating Wüst on her historic win.
“Words can't describe her class. I mean, she’s the greatest of all time as her performance shows,” Bowe was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Another Olympic gold medal in Olympic record fashion. I’m honored to have competed against her for so many years and even more so to call her a friend.”
Wüst confirmed Beijing will be her last Olympics, as she plans on retiring and getting married to her girlfriend, Letitia de Jong.
“I always say age is just a number,” she was quoted by the New York Times. “But I’m 35, and I really want to have children, so at some point you have to quit.”