The Canadian speed skating community was abuzz Tuesday with the news Jeremy Wotherspoon, one of the sport’s greatest long-track sprinters, is planning a comeback for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Wotherspoon, now 36, retired after the 2009-10 World Cup season and had been coaching with the KIA Speed Skating Academy in Inzell, Germany. Although he was unavailable for comment, he confirmed his return to active skating on a video posted on NOS, a Dutch news outlet.
“You can call it a comeback. It’s my comeback,” he said. “I’m not going to pretend that I only skate for the love of skating. Of course I love skating, but I also love to win. And there’s one thing I’ve never won and I’ve always wanted that feeling of winning the Olympics.
“This is my last chance to find that feeling.”
Several athletes were quick to Tweet their reaction to Wootherspoon putting on the clap skates and potentially adding to his illustrious résumé.
“Jeremy Wotherspoon is making a comeback for the 2014 Sochi Olympics! Yeahhhh!” wrote Olympic medalist Denny Morrison. “Jan Bos [former world sprint champion] is going to coach Jeremy to Sochi gold.”
“The return of the King!!! And I ain’t talkin about Elvis, baby,” added Canadian speed skater Anastasia Bucsis.
During his 15 years on the Canadian national team, Wotherspoon recorded an incredible 67 World Cup wins, the bulk of them coming in the 500- and 1,500-metre events. Most everything he won, from world sprint titles to World Cup overall championships, were done in multiple fashion with Wotherspoon also holding world-record times.
The Olympics, though, were another story. In 1998 in Nagano, he won a silver medal in the 500 metres. After that, it’s been largely disappointing for Wotherspoon. He fell in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in his best event, the 500, and was 13th in the 1,000. At the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, the best he could do was a pair of ninth-place finishes.
“Right after the [2010 Vancouver Olympics] I would have to say I stopped skating because it was my plan to stop skating, but I thought, okay, I’m glad to be done,” he told NOS. “Then after a couple of years, I started thinking about it and I was like, ‘Nope, I’m not going to do it’ … Anything’s possible. I accept the risk that it could go badly.”