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Out speedskater Ireen Wüst heads to her fifth Olympics

The most decorated Olympic speedskater in history is hoping to add to her 11 medals.

Ireen Wüst at the Dutch Olympic speedskating trials late last month.
Ireen Wüst at the Dutch Olympic speedskating trials late last month.
Photo by Douwe Bijlsma/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Dutch speedskater Ireen Wüst has won gold medals at every Olympics she has competed in — Turin in 2006, Vancouver in 2010, Sochi in 2014 and PyeongChang in 2018. If the trend holds, she could expect another one in Beijing at next month’s Winter Games.

Wüst, 35, has won five gold medals, five silver and one bronze, making her the most decorated Olympic speedskater in history and, since she is out as a bisexual, the most decorated out LGBTQ Olympian.

While there was some question as to whether Wüst would compete in Beijing, she did make the team as she announced on Twitter:

Wüst has never been very public about her sexuality, but this article from Slate in 2014 shed some light on her thinking about it:

In this video, Wüst reveals that it was initially a struggle to admit that she had fallen in love with a woman, since she had always pictured herself being happy with a husband and children. She initially wished away the attraction and that she could take a pill to undo her feelings. She was also afraid that people would pigeonhole her as a lesbian athlete. “Will you then be known as Ireen the speedskater or Ireen who has a girlfriend? That was a struggle,” she tells the interviewer. Later in the conversation, she notes that she’s also attracted to men and is bisexual.

What I most remember about Wüst from the Olympics was in 2014 when she was hugged by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Sochi Games after winning a gold medal. Putin had pushed through Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws just weeks before those Games and seeing an out athlete win a medal against that backdrop was one of the highlights of those Games.