Irene Schouten’s family thinks career stop is a shame: “We hoped she would change her mind”

The reactions from Irene Schouten’s environment to quit skating are understanding, but also melancholic. After fifteen years, she thinks it’s time for life after top sport. Although her family also thinks this is a shame: “We still hoped she would change her mind,” says brother Simon.

Irene Schouten with four Olympic medals – Photo: Orange Pictures

The most successful Olympian in Dutch history at one Olympic Games, won almost everything there was to win in marathon skating and long track speed skating. Last weekend she won three gold medals and one silver medal at the World Championship distances. “I have been thinking a lot lately and decided that this would be my last season,” said Irene in her statement.

Older brother Simon, himself a top skater for many years, has talked about it with his sister more often in the past year. “As a family we also enjoy it a lot, but her decision was made to stop.”

‘Thinking about what she wants to do now’

But although the family still hoped that she would continue, Simon understands that after fifteen years it was enough. “You work on it day in, day out. I do respect that she stops at her peak. I did ask what she wants to do now, because top sport also gives rhythm to life.”

Yet he is not afraid that Irene will fall into a black hole. “No, that won’t happen. Otherwise she can always work in the family business (a tulip nursery, ed.). We have enough work for her,” he says, laughing. “She is still busy with her new house, but that will be ready soon. So after that she must also look for stability, something with a fixed rhythm,” is his brotherly advice.

Irene Schouten Dutch marathon skating champion – Photo: Orange Pictures

Teacher Bianca Termeulen from St. Werenfridus primary school in Wervershoof, taught the Andijk skater when she was in group 7. A sweet and sociable girl, the teacher said earlier. “Then she already knew: ‘I’m going to win gold at the Olympic Games’.”

From her holiday address she says she is surprised by the decision. “We had just returned to our holiday home when the news came. We all shouted very loudly: ‘ooooooooooh!’. I think it’s fantastic what she has achieved. We were able to enjoy her performance so much, watching skating got something extra. She has achieved everything she wanted to achieve. Now she can enjoy a new phase in her life. I am very proud of her!”

‘Only settles for the win’

The news about the retirement also came as a surprise to fan Jos Kieftenburg from Wervershoof. “But I understand. She has been skating since she was young. Day and night. And she only wants to be the best and is only satisfied with the win.” Kieftenburg has often performed as Irene’s driver. Two years ago, granddaughter Lise successfully gave a speech about the West Frisian skating phenomenon. “I got a 10+!”

Grandpa Jos recognizes himself in the story of the skater from Hoogkarspel. “I myself have been a cyclist for seventeen years. At some point I also ran out of cake. After making sacrifices for so many years, it all comes to an end.” The successful World Championship distances in Calgary may have been her last tournament. “If this was it, then it would be a nice ending.”

Text continues below the photo.

A young Irene Schouten in action – Photo: Supplied

Thea Bervoets is shocked when she hears the news. “She’ll stop?!” From 2006, the Abbekerk native was Schouten’s trainer for two years, in the C-selection. “She was part of a unique generation. I think the selection consisted of ten skaters who all qualified for the National Championships. I never experienced that again,” she said two years ago.

Last weekend she saw her pupil become world champion three more times. “Every time I see her, I still think of the time she was in my group. You will continue to have those memories. Fortunately.”

Also see below how Irene Schouten was honored in Wervershoof in 2022 after she won 3 gold and 1 bronze at the Olympic Games in Beijing:

Compilation of tribute to Irene Schouten in Wervershoof – NH News

This is a message from the joint West Frisian newsroom

Collaboration NH and WEEFF

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