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Irene Schouten, Dutch speed skating star, retires at the top of her game

Dutchwoman Irene Schouten, who won three speed skating gold medals at the 2022 Olympics, announced after winning three golds at last week’s world championships that she is retiring after this season.

“The end of an era,” was posted on her social media.

Schouten, 31, made the announcement a day after the end of the four-day world championships.

Schouten led all skaters with four medals, including golds in the 3000m, mass start and team pursuit.

“I have achieved what I wanted,” the post read, according to an Instagram translation. “After the Olympic year, I realized that it would be difficult to commit directly to a new four-year Olympic cycle. So I decided to watch it a year. This past weekend showed me that I’m in top form and still enjoy the games. Feeling strong and skated last few days even my fastest laps ever. But I also realize that there is a life next to the top sport. I’m really looking forward to that too. Lately I’ve been thinking hard and decided that this will be my last season. Now that the decision has been made, it feels good to share this right away.”

In 2022, Schouten became the first speed skater in 28 years to win three golds at a single Winter Olympics. That included Olympic records in the 3000m and 5000m.

In her last race at last week’s worlds in Calgary, Schouten took 5000m silver behind 24-year-old Joy Beune, who may now take over as the Dutch women’s distance star.