Dutch figure skating icon Sjoukje Dijkstra dies at 82

Sjoukie Dijkstra in 1961. Photo: Harry Pot, Dutch national archives

Former figure skater and Olympic champion Sjoukje Dijkstra has died at age 82 at her home in Someren, her daughter Katja Kossmayer announced on Facebook.

Dijkstra, born in Akkrum in Friesland, became a sporting legend for earning the Netherlands its first ever Winter Olympics gold in 1964.

Sjoukje Dijkstra’s great competitor in the sport was Joan Haanappel who had gained four national titles in a row. But Dijkstra won in 1959 and continued to come into her own, going on to win six national titles, five European titles and three world titles.

Dijkstra left the competitive sport to work in the Holiday on Ice show until 1972. In 1975 she married Karl Kossmayer, who was 25 years her senior and who had a comic mule act in a circus. For the next couple of years Dijkstra accompanied him on his travels and were together until his death in 2000.

In 2005 Dijkstra, who was elected sportswoman of the year six times, received the first Fanny Blankers-Koen trophy named after the Dutch female athlete who won three gold medals in the 1948 Olympics.

King Willem-Alexander was among those paying tribute to Dijkstra. “”With her phenomenal jumping power, she managed to amaze the skating world and everyone outside it,” the king said on social media.

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