Jaap Eden's 150th Birthday: The Dutch Sports Legend on Two Wheels and Two Skates!

19 October 2023 By shamim kordbache History

In honour of Jaap Eden's 150th birthday, we dive into the history of this renowned Dutch sportsman and spotlight athlete. This phenomenal athlete, who became world champion on both bicycle and skating, has left a lasting mark on Dutch sports history. Jaap Eden, born Oct. 19, 1873, in Groningen, Netherlands, was a fascinating figure both on and off the sports field. Despite his unparalleled athletic achievements, his personal life was far from simple and had many challenges.

After the death of his mother when he was only a year old, Eden was raised by his father, who had a military background. This would undoubtedly contribute to his discipline and perseverance, traits that served him well in his sports career. Eden was not only a professional athlete; he was also a talented musician and played the violin. After his sports career, he worked in various professions, including as a bicycle mechanic, car salesman and even a circus performer. Despite his success in the sports world, Eden struggled to remain financially stable and often lived in poverty.

IJzige Hollandse winters brachten hem de liefde voor het schaatsen.Icy Dutch winters brought him the love of skating.

Jaap Eden was born at a time when sports did not have the mass appeal it has today. But Eden was a pioneer, a man ahead of his time. His love of sports began at an early age, and he soon excelled in two disciplines: skating and cycling. It was the icy winters that brought Eden his first love: skating. In 1893, at just 19 years old, Eden captured his first world speed skating title in Amsterdam. His unparalleled speed and graceful technique made him a sensation on the ice. But Eden was not satisfied with just one world title. He would become world champion twice more, in 1895 and 1896, securing his status as a skating legend.

But Eden was not only a master on the ice; he was also a powerhouse on a bicycle. In the summer months, when the skates were put away, Eden would grab his bicycle and leave his competitors in the dust. In 1894, he became world champion of cycling, a feat that made him the first and only person to become world champion in both skating and cycling in the same year! Eden's achievements were a triumph not only for himself, but also for the Netherlands. At a time when sports did not play such a prominent role in society, Eden put the Netherlands on the map as a nation of athletes. His victories inspired generations of Dutch athletes to pursue their dreams and push their limits.

Zomer 1897 - Jaap Eden op de houten wielerbaan in het Willemspark - Amsterdam.Summer 1897 - Jaap Eden on the wooden cycling track in Willemspark - Amsterdam.

What makes Jaap Eden so special is not just his incredible talent and versatility. It is his passion for sports, his determination to win, and his tireless efforts that make him a true legend. His story is a reminder to all of us that with hard work, dedication and a little guts, we can all achieve our dreams. Jaap Eden, a name engraved in the annals of Dutch sports history. A man who showed the world what it means to be a true champion. A legend on both bike and skate. Let's celebrate his legacy and keep telling his story. Because as Jaap Eden showed us, nothing is impossible as long as you believe in it!

1997 - Jaap Eden bij de wielerbaan in Amsterdam1997 - Jaap Eden at the cycling track in Amsterdam

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