From ice hockey in Canada to the short track went to the Netherlands

From ice hockey in Canada to the short track went to the Netherlands

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  • Anne van Eyck

    NOS Sport Editor

  • Anne van Eyck

    NOS Sport Editor

After training the Dutch short track team, fluent English sentences suddenly appeared in the Thialf ice stadium canteen. Someone in an orange tracksuit is really talking: Jens van ‘t Wout.

The 21-year-old Dutchman has lived in Canada for much of his youth and once started out with ice hockey, but now dabbles in short track, with ‘Netherlands’ on his back. In the second World Cup of the season, he was on top of the podium.

twice even. After 1500 and 500 meters he won the gold medal. “I knew we were riding hard as a team, so I felt like there was a medal in it,” says Van ‘t Wout.

“I thought I could compete for a silver or a bronze, but I really didn’t expect the gold. And certainly not twice.”

Watch Van ‘t Wout’s winning carousel races:

A few weeks after the conscious tournament in Salt Lake City, Van Woot still can’t quite believe it. “I’ve been watching short course my whole life, World Cup etc. And winning now feels really good. But it’s also a little unreal.”

youth in Canada

Once he fell out of contention in the 1,500 metres, he also switched between English and Dutch. When van ‘t Wout was two years old, he moved with his parents and brother Melle, who is also on the current Dutch short track team, to the North American country.

Instagram Jens van ‘t Wout

2018: Van ‘t Wout sometimes tied ice hockey skates in the Netherlands

First at the entertainment level in Amsterdam, because Van ‘t Wout’s family moved back to the Netherlands when he was twelve, but he was soon included in the regional talent squad Central Netherlands.

At the age of 19 he was selected for short track by then national coach Jeroen Otter and a year later made his Olympic debut. In Beijing, he has not yet been able to make his mark on the races. Van ‘t Wout was eliminated in both the 500 and 1000 metres.

Back to Canada for a while

He returned to Canada for his first World Cup of the season. In Montreal, to be exact. A little home-like, yeah, Van ‘t Wout admits. “Also on food and drinks. I always take Friso (Emmons, ed.) to Tim Hortons, because they have very nice coffee there.”

His Canadian friends weren’t in the stands. “Montreal is about an eight-hour drive from where I used to live, so I think that’s a lot needed. But we connect and we have a lot of contact.”

In his second home country he did not finish on the podium, but a week later he was able to call his friends from Salt Lake City to tell them that he had won two golds at the World Cup. He wasn’t expecting gold yet, but Van ‘t Wout noted that he’s made great strides on the short track in recent months.

“We have a different coach with Nils Kerstolt, so we train differently. You notice that the level of the whole team has gone up and when you see everyone taking steps, you want that too. I think it’s a combination of a new Olympics and a new coach.”

AP

Van ‘t Wout (left) with Kersholt

“For me personally, the stiffness has improved particularly at speed,” Van ‘t Wout continues. “I can now ride faster and longer in the lead. At 1,500 metres, I notice I’m falling apart at the end less than before.”

After two gold medals, the down-to-earth Van ‘t Wout suddenly doesn’t see himself as a big favorite for the rest of the season. “There would certainly be more interest in me, but I see it this way: Gold was beautiful, but it’s not going to be instantly golden again.”

And he quickly adds: “Or at least, it is possible.” “But I don’t suppose. I’m going to keep racing in the same vein and see what happens.”

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