ABOUT It is believed that skates were developed about 3000 years ago in Scandinavia. In the Netherlands, skating served as a way to travel over the canals in winter and the Dutch are still among the world's most avid skaters. Although the Netherlands is the birthplace of speed skating, the first known skating competition is thought to have been held in 1676. Competitions sprung up across the northern part of Europe shortly after, but the first official speed skating events were not held until 1863 in Oslo, Norway.

In 1889, the Netherlands hosted the first World Championships, bringing together the Dutch, Russians, Americans and English. Speed Skating has been a part of the Olympic programme since the 1st Olympic Winter Games in Champion Mont Blanc in 1924. Originally only men participated, but women's events were included in the 1960 Squaw Valley Games. COMPETITION Speed skating at the Olympic Games consists of ten events: 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, and 5000 m for both woman and men, 3000 m for women, and 10,000 m for men. All events are skated once, with the exception of the men's and women's 500 meters, which are skated twice. The final result is based on the total time of the two races.

In each event, skaters race in pairs against the clock on a standard 400 m oval. Athletes are timed to a hundredth of a second as they skate counter-clockwise around the oval. Colin Coates of Melbourne, Victoria, probably is the greatest Australian talent ever. He made his debut at the OG in Grenoble 1968 at about the same competitive level as Kennedy and Hickey at their debuts. He returned 1972 and made his breakthrough the year after with a 13th place in the world championship. He reached the final cut in 7 world championships in a row with a 11th place in 1974 as his best.

Twice, he was 4th in the 10000 m, and he scored an Olympic point with his 6th place in the same distance at the Innsbruck OG 1976. He made history with his Olympic career, which spanned 6 consecutive games, an unique winter-Olympic record. In his time, Australia and New Zealand arranged memorable country-matches at Lake Ida in New Zealand, starting in 1973 and going on biannually until 1979, Australia won all 4 matches. Towards the end of his career, Coates took up coaching and produced a team of talented skaters. The best were Michael Richmond of Adelaide, South Australia, who reached 15th place twice in the sprint world championships with a 5th place in the 1000 m 1986 as his best single achievement and 5 times qualified his country for a two man quota in the sprint championship, and Danny Kah, also of Adelaide, who became Australia's third great skater, possibly the greatest.

He made his mark with a 7th place in the 1500 m at the 1985 junior world championship, entered his first senior world championship 1986 and made his breakthrough 1988 with a 9th place overall and a 4th place in the 5000 m as his best single achievement. He was #9 again in 1990 and topped his career in Heeren veen 1991 with a 7th place overall and some memorable races against home favourites Thomas Bos and Leo Visser, beating Bos by only 1/100 of a second in the 1500 m. In 1978, ISU arranged their first short-track championships, with an Australian winner at that, but it signalled the demise of Australian long track speedskating. No longer was it necessary to spend months and fortunes at the other side of the globe to be able to fight for medals, and since 1994, no Australian has appeared in the championships. The only "long track" in existence in Australia was a highland lake near Mt. Buffalo in Victoria state.

The lake was used by skaters for training since the 1940's when the ice-conditions permitted, and sometimes when they didn't permit as well. But when the international skater Eddie Spicer (participant in the world championship 1957 and 1958) drowned there in 1997, skating was prohibited. Things will have to materialize in the facilities sector before the two Colin, the Mike and the Danny will get any successors. From: "Marni x Koolhaas" Some supplements that might be interesting: In 1952, the first Australians came to Europe for training for the OG. Except for well known Hickey, also a certain mr. C. Ashworth was present. At least he participated in a Trondheim pre-ECh. competition.

The National Ice Skating Association of Australia was founded in 1931 and joined the ISU in 1932. The speed-skating-dedicated Australian Amateur Ice Racing Council joined the ISU in 1957 and has represented Australian speed-skaters ever since. In 1973 Australia be ated New Zealand in the first long-track speed-skating country-match ('test-match'), ever held at the southern hemisphere, at the famous Lake Ida. The Australian team, consisting of Victor Bag don, Eddie Spicer, John Stockdale and Colin Coates, scored 874.578 against New Zealand (Tony Tinga, Stuart Baird, Jan Have naar and Robert Montgomery) 901.549. This countrymatch was repeated outdoors in the years 1975, 1977 and 1979, all years Australia beating New Zealand. In 1979 the Australian team consisted of: Senior: Rodney Bates, Shane Warren, Michael Richmond (!

), Ken Stewart; Intermediate: Paul Williams, Phil Wilton; ladies: V. Dora tis, J. Baber. Very unfortunate, this countrymatch (now for the Tasman-trophy) nowadays is only skated indoors. For the future maybe Carla Zijlstra will have the Australian long-track-skating revive? ps: And don't forget the fastest man ever in the 10 meters dash: It's very unfortunate that it's never been recorded officially, but I don't think any skater has been faster on the first 10 meter than Lynch!