Something clicks for out Dutch speedskating superstar Ireen Wüst when she competes in the Olympics.
“I don’t know what it is,” she said. “I just see the rings and something magical happens.”
Wüst, 36, made that comment in February when she won the gold medal in the 1,500 meters in speedskating at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. In winning, she became the first athlete to win a gold medal at five consecutive Olympics. Her biography on the official Olympics site sums it up:
The most decorated Olympic speed skater of all time with 13 medals in all, Ireen Wüst is also the Netherlands’ most successful Olympian ever. A winner of gold medals at every Winter Games since making her debut at Turin 2006, she has collected an unprecedented four consecutive medals in the 1,500m alone.
Wüst’s historic success made her an easy choice for Outsports Female Athlete of the Year.
Before winning her fifth gold in five Olympics, Wüst had been tied with swimmer Michael Phelps, track athlete Carl Lewis and discus thrower Al Oerter with four golds at four consecutive Games.
“Of course it means a lot, but I don’t realize it yet,” she said at the time. “Ask me this question again in 10 days. I’m an emotional mess in my head.”
Wüst identifies as bi and has never been comfortable discussing her private life, which is her right. She does her talking and is a role model for LGBTQ athletes on the ice.
Honorable mention: Team Canada women’s hockey LGBTQ players
Team Canada won the women’s gold medal in ice hockey at the Olympics thanks to contributions from seven out players:
Previous Outsports Female Athlete of the Year winners:
2021: Jonquel Jones
2020: Yulimar Rojas
2019: CeCé Telfer
2018: Sue Bird
2017: Seimone Augustus
2016: Nicola Adams
2014: Brittney Griner