Speed Skating Hall of Fame

Marianne Timmer

Born: October 3, 1974 - Sappemeer (NED)

Started out as an all-rounder, Marianne Timmer became the most successful Dutch sprinter in the history of speed skating. Winning three gold medals at two Olympics and several world titles, she was the first of her country that was able to compete with the absolute best on the short distances for a longer period of time. With Timmer (and male skaters like Jan Bos and Erben Wennemars), sprinting in the Netherlands finally made it past puberty.

For those that paid attention, it was quite obvious early on that young Timmer had the right mind set for becoming a profession athlete. In school, she was always the first to arrive at gymnastics lessons, and the first starting with the warming-up. “I wanted to be the best”, she said later in an interview with NOS. “It just wasn’t acceptable that someone else was better than me.

Her big breakthrough took place in 1994, when she finished third at the World Championships (WCh) allround for juniors and second at the national championships per distance at the 1.000 meters. The following years, Timmer quickly grew stronger so that in 1997 she was able to compete with the best skaters of the world. During the WCh Single Distances that year, she finished first (1.000 meters), third (1.500) and fourth (500). At the WCh Sprint in Hamar, Timmer ended up at the sixth place of the overall ranking.

Nonetheless, her two gold medals at the Olympics of Nagano a year later, came as a big surprise. In Japan, she first skated a world record on the 1,500 meters and beat the favorite Gunda Niemann. A few days later, exactly four years after the death of her good friend and speed skater Renske Vellinga, Timmer finished first on the 1.000 meters, leaving favorites like Chris Witty and Catriona Le May Doan behind her. “Queen of the Olympics”, the Dutch press exulted.

The following years, Timmer encountered some difficulties that affected her results. She married and divorced former speed skater and present day coach Peter Mueller, and changed teams a few times. At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, she wasn’t able to repeat the performances of Nagano by a long shot. Although she finished fourth on the 1,000 meters, the 1,500 turned out to be a disaster: the Olympic champion had to settle for a mere 21st place. The WCh Sprint a month earlier wasn’t a success either. There, Timmer finished tenth.

From 2004 onwards, Timmer became comfortable in her own skin again. She skated better results and even won the WCh Sprint as the first Dutch woman in history. At the 2006 Olympics in Torino, she was able to leave the memory of Salt Lake City behind her and won the 1,000 for a second time, beating Cindy Klassen and Anni Friesinger by a few hunderds of a second.

Four years later, Timmer hoped to win a fourth gold medal at her fourth Olympics, but shortly before the tournament she was injured when the Chinese Jing Yu fell during a race and took her competitor with her. Unfortunately, she didn’t recover on time and therefore wasn’t able to qualify. Since she was planning to end her career at the Games in Vancouver, Timmer decided to go on for one more year. Finally, in 2011 she retired as an active speed skater. Now she is coach of the Dutch women team Liga.

Jeroen Savelkouls, February 9, 2014

Career summary


Podia at championships

yearpositionchampionshipplace
19971 World Championship Single Distances 1000 metersWarsawPOL
3 World Championship Single Distances 1500 metersWarsawPOL
19981 Olympic Winter Games 1000 metersNaganoJPN
1 Olympic Winter Games 1500 metersNaganoJPN
19993 World Championship Single Distances 2x500 metersHeerenveenNED
1 World Championship Single Distances 1000 metersHeerenveenNED
20002 World Championship Single Distances 1000 metersNaganoJPN
3 World Championship SprintSeoulKOR
20042 World Championship Single Distances 1000 metersSeoulKOR
1 World Championship SprintNaganoJPN
20053 World Championship Single Distances 1000 metersInzellGER
20061 Olympic Winter Games 1000 metersTurinITA

World Records

#disciplinerecorddateplace
1Mini combination163.315Mar 15/16, 1997CalgaryCAN
21500 meters1:57.58Feb 16, 1998NaganoJPN

Personal Bests

distancetimedateplace
500m0:37.86Nov 17, 2007CalgaryCAN
1000m1:14.45Feb 17, 2002Salt Lake CityUSA
1500m1:57.58Feb 16, 1998NaganoJPN
3000m4:15.76Oct 21, 2001CalgaryCAN
5000m7:53.32Mar 17, 1994HeerenveenNED