Speed ​​skating: a new start in the Netherlands

Speed ​​Skating: A New Beginning in the Netherlands


HEERENVEEN  |  After two years at the helm of the France team and a nightmarish experience at the Beijing Olympics, Annie Sarrat has bounced back to the Netherlands where she enjoys enormously in her role as assistant coach with the Dutch short track speed skating team.

After the Beijing Games where she was in isolation for 20 days out of 26 after being declared positive for COVID-19, the Montrealer who had worked with the Canadian team in the past had decided not to return to France where the context did not lend itself to the development of advanced skaters.

“ I received three offers, underlined Sarrat who has Canadian and French nationalities. Canada approached me and we had a few discussions, but it ended there. The Netherlands offered me interesting conditions while I do not want to identify the third country. happy with the role she has been given. 

She helps plan the training of the short track team.

“Very important role”

“Technical and tactical analysis is often overlooked,” she explained. I also help with training planning, which I did for two years in France. The head coach dictates to the athletes what I prepare. My role is very important and I really like it. »

In a country where long track plays a very big role, it is not always easy for short track to do well. Thu. Sarrat believes she landed at Heerenveen at the right time.

“The timingis good because the Federation has carried out a considerable reconstruction of the team. There are seven new faces out of 11 among the management staff. It is a new start in this first year of the Olympic cycle. The Dutch identity is very important, and that is why the Federation bet on Niels Kerstholt who has little experience. I respect their choice to go with a local head coach.”

The Netherlands did very well at the world championship which has just ended in Seoul. A collection of eight medals, including five gold, put them ahead of Canada, which won six medals.

The Montrealer congratulates an athlete after a race in Heereveen.

Good harvest worldwide

“Before my arrival, several athletes had been neglected and they are coming back to the surface. The women show good potential with Suzanne Schulting and Xandra Velzeboer, but one of my challenges is to get the men's team back on track to be competitive in Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo in 2026. I'm very happy with the progress.  »

« We are very, very much in the shadow of the long track, to pursue the one who skated under the colors of France at the 1995 world junior championship. visibility affects the long track with the huge promotion of the Sven Kramer Academy while there is nothing for the short track. »

Hired by Gaétan Boucher as the first coach of the Rosemère club after his retirement, Sarrat subsequently worked with the national team and the Pointe-aux-Trembles club.

Work-family balance

In 2011, after giving birth to her first child, Sarrat retired from skating until 2019 when her two sons started school. < /p>

“I did a few small contracts for Speed ​​Skating Canada upon my return, but I realized that I had to look elsewhere if I wanted to return to the international scene. The doors were closed and I didn't like the way it worked. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, in the summer of 2020, Sarrat left for France with her two boys and her husband . Separated a year after her arrival with our cousins, the trainer returns to France one week a month and the children take advantage of the school holidays to visit her in the Netherlands. 

« We found a way to reconcile family and work without affecting the team. »