Jorien ter Mors (30) regularly thought about quitting last season, because she continued to suffer from her right knee, which was operated in October 2018.
The three-time Olympic champion continued and on Friday she will start a pain-free skating winter for the first time in years.
Martin ten Hove has been working with Ter Mors for more than two years, but it was only in recent months that he became acquainted with the top athlete who has hardly any physical equal in the skating world.
"We now finally see the real Jorien ter Mors and we are very impressed", says the coach of Team IKO in conversation with NU.nl.
"Ha, in strength training she sometimes uses weights that the men in our team don't even use. She has finally been able to build a whole summer as she wants, is free of complaints and then she has a kind of extra layer compared to an average athlete. is very special. "
The contrast with last season is great, because then Ten Hove saw a crying Ter Mors almost every week during training.
Because she kept having pain in that damned knee.
And because she doubted whether she could still manage mentally to keep fighting for a return to the top.
"I've often thought: I want to quit," Ter Mors admits.
"If you'd told me two years ago that my surgery would take so long to recover, I probably would have said, I'm not going to do that."
"But once you are in the middle of that process, it is difficult to stop. And in retrospect I am of course glad that I continued, because although that right knee will always remain a weak spot, I can now finally say that I can skate pain-free. "
Jorien ter Mors (right) took a distance medal at the World Cup sprint at the end of last season, with bronze in the 1,000 meters. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Jorien ter Mors (right) took a distance medal at the World Cup sprint at the end of last season, with bronze in the 1,000 meters.
(Photo: Pro Shots)
'Danger is that the old Jorien will come up again'
Ter Mors can show from Friday at the start of the skating season, which has changed significantly due to the corona pandemic, that she is back in the form that earned her two Olympic titles (1,500 meters and team pursuit) in 2014 and one Olympic title (1,000 meters) in 2018.
In an empty Thialf she starts with 1,500 meters on day one of the NK distances.
"I find it very difficult to say how good I will be", says Ter Mors.
"For the first time in years I have a fresh body and I have to get used to it again, especially towards a competition."
The former short track speed skater, who had to skip the 2014/2015 season due to some form of overtraining, must especially ensure that she does not want too much now that she has been able to do things in training for two months that she has not been able to do for a long time.
"Where I used to have my knee as a brake, I can now fully pull all the strings myself. That's nice, but the danger is that the old Jorien will come up again, the Jorien who always wanted to train. That brings some unrest. and uncertainty. "
Jorien ter Mors won her third Olympic title in South Korea two years ago. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Jorien ter Mors won her third Olympic title in South Korea two years ago.
(Photo: Pro Shots)
'I am already focusing on the 2022 Games'
There is also uncertainty due to the corona crisis, which caused all World Cups from November and December to be canceled and that there is still a big question mark behind the international tournaments in the second part of the season.
There are currently four games on the Dutch calendar in the next two months.
The NK distances (Friday to Sunday) will be followed by the NK Allround (21-22 November), the NK Sprint (28-29 November) and a World Cup qualifying tournament (26-28 December).
"I am very relieved that we will not have anything until December," says Ter Mors, who, however, mainly focuses on the Olympic Games in February 2022 in Beijing.
"Due to corona these are troubled times and so I said to myself in the summer: I am going to focus on 2022. That gives me peace of mind in case matches are canceled. Moreover, I really want to do something great at the Games. With a fresh body. "
See also: Program NK distances in Thialf