53-Year-Old Dutch Cyclist Jennette Jansen Wins Latest Paralympic Gold 33 Years After Her First

With a competitive sports career that has lasted over three decades, Dutch cyclist Jennette Jansen has shown she’s not slowing down.

Jansen, who competes for the Netherlands, won gold on September 1 in the women’s H1-4 cycling road race at the Tokyo Paralympics with a time of 56.15. (H1-4 is a sport class for physical impairment.) Annika Zeyen of Germany won silver with a time of 56:21, and Alicia Dana of Team USA clinched a bronze medal with a time of 56:24. 

This victory marks Jansen’s 10th Paralympic medal—which she has amassed over seven different Paralympic Games and three sports—and comes 33 years after her first gold medal win.

According to, the 53-year-old athlete won three gold medals in track events at her first Paralympic Games in Seoul 1988. Since then, she has won numerous silver and bronze medals across three sports: athletics, wheelchair basketball, and cycling. 

But she had yet to take home another gold medal after her first three in the 1980s. Until now.

At the beginning of her Tokyo competition, gold didn’t seem like it was in the cards. On August 31, Jansen won bronze in the women’s H4-5 time trial (Oksana Masters won gold). She expressed her disappointment, but also acknowledged that the odds were not really in her favor. When it comes to sport classifications, lower numbers indicate a more severe activity limitation, the International Paralympic Committee explains. Jansen competes in the H4 category, so she can compete in both the 1–4 and 4–5 fields. (Jansen was born without fully developed legs, and had both limbs amputated when she was a child, according to

“Yesterday [Tuesday] I was very disappointed I got the bronze medal,” the athlete said, according to “When you look back, it was the highest result I could reach in the mixed class with H5, H4. On a course like this that is hilly, it’s impossible to win against the girls who have the power.”

She added, “I was satisfied with it and I could enjoy it a little, but I was still hungry for the gold.”

Then on Wednesday, while competing in the H1-4 classification in the road race, she achieved that goal with her first-place finish. 

“This was the race I was waiting for, and it was a very nice battle,” she told

Jansen started her Paralympics career in athletics, then moved into wheelchair basketball. It wasn’t until 2012, after a break from competing after the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, that she took up hand cycling, according to the athlete’s personal website. She returned to the Paralympic stage for cycling at the Rio Games.

While many people might choose to end their career after seven Paralympic Games and 10 Paralympic medals, Jansen says she isn’t quite done with sports yet.

“I like sports very much, and it’s proving to myself I can still do this, although of course there will come a moment when the younger generation will pass me,” she said after her win, per “Some day it will happen, but until that moment, I enjoy this.”


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