Letitia Vriesde
Personal information
Born (1964-10-05) 5 October 1964 (age 56)
Coronie, Suriname
Height1.59 m (5 ft 3 in)
Weight55 kg (121 lb)
Event(s)800 m – 3000 m
ClubAtletiekvereniging Rotterdam

Letitia Alma Vriesde (born 5 October 1964) is a female former track and field athlete from Suriname, who specialised in the 800 metres but was also successful over 1500 metres. She is the first (and to date, only) sportsperson from Suriname to compete at five Olympic Games.[1] She won a silver medal at the 1995 World Championships and a bronze medal at the 2001 World Championships. Vriesde holds the South American records for the 800 metres, 1000 metres and 1500 metres (indoors and outdoors) and also for the 3000 metres (indoors).


Vriesde started running in Suriname, coached by Luiz de Oliveira. She left Suriname after failing to be selected for the 1984 Olympics to train in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, Vriesde competed for Atletiekvereniging Rotterdam.[2]

She competed in the 800 metres at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and broke into the highest echelons of the sport in 1991, when she reached the finals of both the 800 and 1500 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Tokyo, finishing in fifth and ninth places respectively. At the 1992 Summer Olympics Vriesde set a record of sorts by recording the fastest ever non-qualifying time (1:58.28) in an 800 metres semi-final.

Vriesde won a bronze medal in the 800 metres at the 1995 IAAF World Indoor Championships, before going on to win a silver medal at the 1995 World Championships in Athletics behind Cuba's Ana Quirot. At both competitions, she became the first South American female athlete to win a medal.

A year later, she missed the finals at the 1996 Summer Olympics, running a nearly identical time to her 1992 Olympic performance (1:58.29), again placing fifth in her semifinal. Vriesde won a bronze medal in the 800 metres at the 2001 World Championships in Athletics behind Mozambique's Maria Mutola and Austria's Stephanie Graf. Throughout her career, Vriesde also won many medals at the Pan American Games, Central American and Caribbean Games and South American Games.

Vriesde was disqualified and stripped of her gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Games after testing positive for excessive caffeine levels. She was said to have the equivalent of five gallons of coffee in her system. She was not banned however and went on to compete at that year's World Championships. Drinking too much coffee or taking a common cold tablet would no longer get athletes disqualified after a new global list of banned substances was drawn up by the World Anti-Doping Agency and applied from 1 January 2004.

Vriesde retired soon after competing at her seventh World Championships in 2005. In Paramaribo a street formerly known as Cultuurtuinlaan was changed into Letitia Vriesdelaan. The Surinamese Government also gave her a piece of land in appreciation of her achievements.

Personal life

Vriesde married Bas van Veen on 9 September 2005 in Middelburg, Holland. Her daughter Joi Vienna was born on 19 March 2007.

Personal bests

As of 2017, Vriesde's 800m best of 1:56.68 ranks her 58th on the World all-time list.[3][4]

Vriesde’s Top 10 800m performances

World Rankings

Women's 800m[6]

Women's 1500

Women's 400m

Olympic Games glossary

800 metres Event History

1500 metres Event History

Competition record

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Suriname
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 14th (sf) 800 m 2:02.34
22nd (sf) 1500 m 4:19.58
1990 Central American and Caribbean Games Mexico City, Mexico 2nd 800 m 2:04.87 A
1st 1500 m 4:26.28 A
South American Games Lima, Peru 1st 800 m 2:06.2
1st 1500 m 4:23.0
1991 Pan American Games Havana, Cuba 4th 800 m 2:01.46
2nd 1500 m 4:16.75
World Championships Tokyo, Japan 5th 800 m 1:58.25
8th 1500 m 4:09.67
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 5th (sf) 800 m 1:58.28
8th 1500 m 4:09.64
1993 Central American and Caribbean Games Ponce, Puerto Rico 1st 800 m 2:04.28
1st 1500 m 4:18.45
1994 South American Games Valencia, Venezuela 2nd 800 m 2:06.2
2nd 1500 m 4:23.0
1995 World Indoor Championships Barcelona, Spain 3rd 800 m 2:00.36
Pan American Games Mar del Plata, Argentina 3rd 800 m 2:02.25
4th 1500 m 4:23.80
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 2nd 800 m 1:56.68
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 7th (sf) 800 m 1:58.29
1997 World Indoor Championships Paris, France 4th 800 m 1:59.84
World Championships Athens, Greece 4th 800 m 1:58.12
1998 Central American and Caribbean Games Maracaibo, Venezuela 1st 800 m 2:00.24
World Cup Johannesburg, South Africa 3rd 800 m 2:00.561
1999 World Indoor Championships Maebashi, Japan 11th (sf) 800 m 2:03.50
Pan American Games Winnipeg, Canada 1st 800 m 1:59.95
World Championships Seville, Spain 7th (sf) 800 m 2:00.33
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 18th (h) 800 m 2:02.09
2001 South American Championships Manaus, Brazil 2nd 800 m 2:00.93
1st 1500 m 4:19.97
World Championships Edmonton, Canada 3rd 800 m 1:57.35
2002 Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador, El Salvador 1st 800 m 2:04.50
2003 Pan American Games Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 800 m DQ
World Championships Paris, France 11th (sf) 800 m 2:00.88
2004 Olympic Games Athens, Greece 24th (sf) 800 m 2:06.95
2005 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 19th (sf) 800 m 2:02.07
Results with (h) or (sf) indicates overall position in heats or semifinals respectively.

1Representing the Americas

See also


  1. ^ "SR/Olympic Sports: Letitia Vriesde". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Historie AVR (Atletiekvereniging Rotterdam) - Rotterdam Atletiek". Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  3. ^ "800m women". IAAF toplists. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  4. ^ "800m women". All-time Athletics. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Letitia Vriesde". Suriname Athletics. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Rankings 800m women" (PDF). Track and Field news. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
Awards Preceded byPetra Kamstra Rotterdam Sportswoman of the Year1991 Succeeded byPetra Kamstra Preceded byNone Rotterdam Sportswoman of the Year1995 Succeeded byFrancis Hoenselaar Olympic Games Preceded byEnrico Linscheer Flagbearer for  SurinameAthens 2004Beijing 2008 Succeeded byAnthony Nesty