Became the most successful woman in Olympic cycling history in Athens. Aged 34, she won the time trial gold medal to add to her three golds and a silver from Sydney. She also won a bronze in the track individual pursuit. Her medals total made her the Netherlands most successful female Olympian, overtaking the great Fanny Blankers-Koen.
Leontien van Moorsel was a World Champion cyclist both on the road and on the track before she competed in her first Olympics in 1992 where she finished 8th in the individual pursuit and 23rd in the road race. Van Moorsel won the 1993 World Championship road race, but then missed the next three seasons, including the Atlanta Olympics, while she dealt with anorexia and bulimia.
She married her coach Michael Zijlaard, conquered her eating disorders and returned to international competition. At the 2000 Sydney Games, she broke the world record in the semi-finals of the pursuit and then won the final with ease and added a silver medal in the points race. With help from Dutch teammates Chantal Beltman and Mirjam Melchers, she also won the gold medal in the road race and four days later, she won the road time trial by 37 seconds.
By the time of the 2004 Olympics, Zijlaard-van Moorsel was 34 years old. She wanted to retire on a high note, but it looked like her efforts would be thwarted when she crashed in the road race, coming away with bruises to her neck, hip and shoulder. There was speculation that she would have to withdraw from the time trial three days later. Instead, she not only appeared at the starting line, she won the race by 24.09 seconds, earning her fourth career gold medal. Zijlaard-van Moorsel closed her Olympic career by adding a bronze medal in the pursuit.