Speed Skating Hall of Fame

Yvonne van Gennip

Born: May 1, 1964 - Haarlem (NED)

Yvonne van Gennip (born May 1, 1964) is a former speed skater from Haarlem, who participated in the Olympic Games three times. During the Calgary Olympic games of 1988, she became the Dutch Ice Queen, by winning three Olympic gold medals. Together with Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen, she was the most successful athlete at the 1988 winter games.

Early years
Van Gennip began skating at the age of ten. Soon it became clear that she was a very talented skater. In her international debut in 1982 at the world sprint championships van Gennip just missed the podium and finished fourth. Later that year Gennip started as favorite at the world junior championships allround. Despite gains in the 1500m and 3000m, she was narrowly defeated in the final standings by Angela Stahnke from East Germany (GDR).

Competition from East-Germany
In the eighties van Gennip became stronger and stronger. Two times van Gennip won the Dutch allround championships. In addition, she became Dutch sprint champion, twice. During international tournaments, the very strong skaters from East Germany defeated van Gennip, time after time again. For example, van Gennip finished second after Andrea Ehrig at the European allround championships three times in a row (1985-1987). Also at the World allround championships, van Gennip found her way to the podium (1 silver and 2 bronze medals). Karin Kania beat her two times, once the surprising Constanze Moser was too strong. However, there was international success too. In March 1987, van Gennip first improved the world record in the 3000m. The day after, she also took the world record in the 5000m.

Olympic success
In the run-up to the 1988 Olympics things did not start smoothly for Yvonne van Gennip . Two months before the games, a foot injury made surgery necessary. Because of this surgery, expectations for the games were not too high. Van Gennip started as an outsider in the 3000 meters. The East German women were expecting to win on the very fast track of the Calgary Olympic Oval. The battle for the gold medal should be decide in the first race between Kania and Ehrig. The powerful Kania started extremely fast, but could not hold on. Andrea Ehrig persisted and skate a new world record in a time of 4.12,09. Immediately after this race, it was up to Yvonne van Gennip. Until 2600 meters, van Gennip was less than a second behind the time of Ehrig. With an impressive final lap, van Gennip was able to beat Ehrig and won the gold medal in a phenomenal time of 4.11,94. The gold gave van Gennip a lot of confidence in the other races. Four days later, she won the 1500 meters by beating Kania with only 0,14 seconds. The last distance of the tournament was the 5k. Again, van Gennip was unstoppable. In a new world record, she took her third Olympic gold medal.

After 1988, van Gennip continued speed skating, but she never reached her level of 1988. The East German women dominated as usual and van Gennip had to settle for the title ' best of the rest '. She hoped to repeat her Olympic fairytale from 1988 during the Albertville 1992 winter games. However, this time she got no further than a disappointing sixth place in the 3000 meters. Van Gennip was out for revenge in the 1500 meters. Unfortunately, she felled. After this race, there came an end to a beautiful skating career that included a golden week in February 1988.

Pieter Vankan, February 9, 2014


Career summary


Podia at championships

yearpositionchampionshipplace
19852 European Championship AllroundGroningenNED
19862 European Championship AllroundGeithusNOR
19873 World Championship AllroundWest AllisUSA
2 European Championship AllroundGroningenNED
19881 Olympic Winter Games 1500 metersCalgaryCAN
1 Olympic Winter Games 3000 metersCalgaryCAN
1 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersCalgaryCAN
2 World Championship AllroundSkienNOR
3 European Championship AllroundKongsbergNOR
19893 World Championship AllroundLake PlacidUSA
19913 European Championship AllroundSarajevoYUG

World Records

#disciplinerecorddateplace
13000 meters4:16.85Mar 19, 1987HeerenveenNED
25000 meters7:20.36Mar 20, 1987HeerenveenNED
33000 meters4:11.94Feb 23, 1988CalgaryCAN
45000 meters7:14.13Feb 28, 1988CalgaryCAN
510,000 meters15:25.25Mar 19, 1988HeerenveenNED

Personal Bests

distancetimedateplace
500m0:41.54Mar 19, 1987HeerenveenNED
1000m1:21.21Feb 12, 1989CalgaryCAN
1500m2:00.68Feb 27, 1988CalgaryCAN
3000m4:11.94Feb 23, 1988CalgaryCAN
5000m7:14.13Feb 28, 1988CalgaryCAN
10,000m15:25.25Mar 19, 1988HeerenveenNED