Arie van Vliet – 1938 World Champion Sprint Professionals

Arie van Vliet – 1938 World Champion Sprint Professionals

Arie van Vliet had one of the longest careers of any track sprinter. Between 1934 and 1957, he won a total of 13 World Championship medals in the event, and it would certainly have been more, had his career not been interrupted by World War II. After two silvers, he won his first amateur world title in 1936. He was favored to win the Olympic gold as well, but was obstructed in the final. His German opponent, Toni Merkens, wasn’t disqualified, but merely fined 100 Deutschmarks. Van Vliet instead won the gold medal in the time trial. Changing to the pros, van Vliet defeated the great Belgian Jef Scherens in the 1938 World Championship final. They were again matched for the 1939 final, but the race was cancelled when World War II broke out. After the war, van Vliet won two more world titles, in 1948 and 1953. He last medaled in 1957, losing to compatriot Jan Derksen in the final.

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