‘Panther’ Lara van Ruijven wrote Dutch shorttrack history

Documented off the track, lurking on the ice razor-sharp at her chance. Always ready to strike, like a panther. This is how Lara van Ruijven acquired a prominent place in Dutch sports history during her short career

“The gun factor with her was enormous”, says Joris van den Berg, short track commentator of the CCeit. “She was modest and introverted, but always positive. Van Ruijven was not a beautiful short track star, a bit angular. But it was heartbreaking how she raced on the ice.”

Two moments typify the career of the Naaldwijk short track star, who died on Friday at the age of 27: her world title in the 500 metres and a bizarre Olympic relay medal.

The highlight of her individual career will be realised by Van Ruijven on 9 March 2019. In Bulgarian Sofia she will become world champion at 500 metres. In the finals she takes the lead, but after a lot of pushing and pulling, Martina Valcepina pushes her skate over the line just a little earlier.

Nearth a year later, on 16 February 2020, a gold world cup medal will be awarded. At the world cup final in Dordrecht, she also wins the 500 metres.

Look below at two individual highlights of Van Ruijven’s career: her world title and World Cup gold in Dordrecht and a longer interview.

In 2013 Van Ruijven will make her debut on the international short track stage at the age of 20. At the European Championships in Malmรถ, together with Jorien ter Mors, Sanne and Yara van Kerkhof, she will take the European title at the redemption.

Olympic bronze in world record

Since then Van Ruijven, who is called ‘panther Lara’ by her teammates because of her glasses and helmet with panther motif, is a fixed value in the close relief team of national coach Jeroen Otter.

At the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, she and Yara van Kerkhof, Jorien ter Mors and Suzanne Schulting will be crowning their years of journey towards the world’s top.

After a bizarre denouement – the Netherlands starts in the B-final and is therefore actually hopeless for honorary metal, until two countries are disqualified from the A-final – the Dutch women conquer bronze on the king’s number. In a world record, that is.

Van Ruijven will also be Dutch champion twice in her career, in 2015 and in 2019. In February of this year she cheers for the last time in front of her own audience when she wins the 500 meters and the relay within an hour at the World Cup in Dordrecht.

Shoulder surgery

That training camp suddenly comes to an end when she’s hospitalized.

Lara van Ruijven was part of the CCeit Wintersquad. Through vlogs on our YouTube page, she gave a glimpse into her life as a top sportswoman. Below a selection of her images.