In recent weeks, the Dutch short track speed skaters have successfully completed their mission to conquer the maximum number of starting places for the Olympic Winter Games.

The team of leader Suzanne Schulting seems ready for a record number of medals in Beijing.

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Jeroen Otter likes to compare himself with Caterpillar Never Enough, because his hunger for success has never been sated.

But with a total of nineteen medals (see table below), the national coach of the Dutch short track team can only look back proudly on four tough World Cup competitions on two different continents.

"It's great that we've been on the podium almost five times per World Cup on average," says Otter.

"As a coach, I will always see room for improvement, but let's be honest: if we win four or five medals at the Games in two months' time at the Games, we will all be very happy."

Sjinkie Knegt achieved a first at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014 by being the first Dutchman to win an Olympic short track medal (bronze in the 1,000 meters).

Four years later in South Korea there was the first Dutch Olympic title (Schulting in the 1,000 meters) and Otter's team went home with a record number of four medals (one gold, two silver and one bronze).

The team is now so strong, also in width, that the Netherlands will be one of the favorites for gold in all nine short track events at the Beijing Games next February, or at least among the contenders for a medal.

"We have worked very hard for the past twelve years to get into this situation," said Otter, who has been national coach since 2010.

"When I started I wanted our problems to become luxury problems. That we have no idea who to take to the Games, because we have so many great drivers. That we feel tension with every race, because we have something to lose instead of winning something. That dream has now come true. But now we are already dreaming on, that's how it works."

Dutch medals in world cup

  • Beijing: two golds (Schulting 1,000 meters, men's relay), two silvers (mixed relay, women's relay)

  • Nagoya: two golds (Schulting 1,500 meters, women's relay), two silvers (De Laat 1,000 meters, Schulting 1,000 meters), one bronze (Velzeboer, 1,000 meters)

  • Debrecen: four golds (Schulting 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters, women's relay), one bronze (De Laat 1,000 meters)

  • Dordrecht: two golds (mixed relay, women's relay), one silver (Knegt, 1,500 meters), two bronzes (Schulting, 1,000 and 1,500 meters)

'It remains exciting until I'm on the plane'

Due to the good performances in the World Cup, the Netherlands can participate in Beijing with the maximum number of five women and five men.

For the time being, only Schulting (on the 1,000 and 1,500 meters) and Itzhak de Laat (on the 1,000 meters) are sure of an Olympic ticket.

The other eight names will be chosen by the short track selection committee, in which Otter plays an important role, and announced no later than 17 January.

That means riders like Jens van 't Wout will have to be in suspense for a few more weeks.

The short track speed skater who is just twenty years old is one of the many talents in Otter's selection who have proven in recent weeks that they can already compete with the world top.

Van 't Wout was even given the important task in Dordrecht on Sunday to act as the final driver in the mixed relay.

The first-year senior secured the gold for the Netherlands by keeping the Hungarian world champion in the 1,000 meters Shaolin Sándor Liu behind him in the final rounds.

"The feeling I had when I was the first to push my skate across the finish line was really fantastic. I've never experienced anything like this," says Van 't Wout, who also made a good impression on the individual numbers by playing in his first World Cup season. three B finals.

Yet Van 't Wout does not yet dare to say out loud that he is sure of the Games.

"We simply have so many good drivers in our team, it is all very close together. There will be another NK (on December 31 and January 2, ed.) That will also be looked at. It will remain exciting until I the plane to Beijing."

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No individual gold Schulting: 'Bronze keeps me critical and sharp'

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