Lausanne, Switzerland

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) at ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

With two World Cup stops to go, Suzanne Schulting (NED) tops the overall world ranking, unbeaten in the Ladies’ 1000m, and comes into the last leg of the season full of confidence after dominating the European Championships in front of her home fans.

With a total of 76 points, the 21-year-old won the overall Ladies’ competition at the ISU European Short Track Championships 2019 in Dordrecht, Netherlands, bagging gold medals in the 1500m and 3000m Relay.

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) at ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

“The Relay and the 3km were fantastic – I had to win the 3km to win the overall and I did it. It’s amazing. It’s been an amazing week,” Schulting said after the race.

“I have been so nervous the whole week and now to have got it done, it feels so good. I am really happy it’s over.”

The Groningen-born star said she feels much stronger than when she won the 1000m gold medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

 
 
 
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“This year I’m more of an athlete than last year,” she said.

“My body is more athletic than last year so maybe that’s why (this season has gone so well). After the Games I was also like, ‘I won gold on the 1,000 and in the summer and in the next season I want to be really good as well. I want to show the whole world that I’m still good at the 1,000 so I trained really hard over the summer and worked on a lot of things like my body being fit and everything, and it worked out pretty well.”

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) at ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Apart from hard work at the gym and on the ice, Schulting thinks that adding half an inch to her 17-inch skates has made her even faster.

“I’ve had it (the longer skates) over the summer and I feel more stable now,” she said.

“I’ve also worked really hard, I’ve proved myself in the weight room and everything like that, so it’s everything together that does it, I think.”

 
 
 
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A factor off the ice could also contribute to her steadily-rising form following last year’s Olympic success.

“I’ve got a boyfriend now,” Schulting said, adding:

“But I’ve had a boyfriend for the last one-and-a-half years. He was there at the Olympics too, so maybe that’s helped.”

 
 
 
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She tops the World Cup 1000m ranking on 30,000 points – almost twice as many as No.2 Sofia Prosvirnova (RUS) on 17,074.

“1,000m is totally my thing right now so I’m really confident to skate 1,000,” Schulting said.

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) and Choi Min Jeong (KOR) at ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Seoul (KOR) 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)

The race to the overall world title this season is between her and defending champion Choi Min Jeong (KOR), who tops the 1500m ranking. The duo have already fought many battles this season.

“She’s an absolutely great racer and it’s absolutely great to race against her, so it makes it even more special to beat her,” Schulting said.

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) at ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

With ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stops in Dresden, Germany, and Torino, Italy, as well as the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in the Bulgarian capital Sofia remaining this season, she stresses how a strong mind game is key to keeping her top position in the rankings.

“Every race I have to keep focus. It’s not like this is coming really easy, I have to be ready all the time,” she said.

“I have to keep focused, stay on this level, train hard. In Dutch we say that ‘I need to be better today than I was yesterday’. If you think like that every day then you become a better skater.”

A lot has happened since she won Olympic gold in February 2018. Schulting, who was awarded Dutch Sportswoman of the year in December, is now seen on magazine covers and in TV shows, becoming a sporting celebrity in the Netherlands. However, the Short Track superstar is not bothered by the attention from media or well-wishers on the street as she looks to position herself as the sport’s world No.1.

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) at ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Almaty (KAZ) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

“For me it’s still normal,” she said.

“Of course, sometimes (people come up to her on the street), but it’s not like that crazy all the time. It’s bigger now of course, they are asking me to appear more and more (in media), but I really like it, I enjoy it, so it’s nice.”