Flying Dutchwoman Wüst reclaims 3,000m title
Ireen Wüst secured gold for the Netherlands in the women’s 3,000m speed skating competition with a scintillating display of power and speed at the Adler Arena.
The Dutchwoman won her third Olympic gold medal, as her time of 04:00.34 was over one and a half seconds faster than that of close rival Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic.
Sablikova, who won this event by two seconds at Vancouver 2010, looked likely to repeat the feat after clocking a formidable time of 04:01.95, but she had to settle for silver after a quite devastating response from the 27 year-old Dutchwoman.
Wüst set an exhilarating pace from the start of her outing, the penultimate run of Sunday’s contest, and her position at the top of the podium was rarely in much doubt during a controlled and confident skate.
Hat-trick of golds
Victory ensured that Wüst regained the 3,000m gold that she won in Turin eight years ago, and brought up a hat-trick of Olympic triumphs after her 1,500m win in Vancouver.
It makes her the joint most successful Dutch athlete in Olympic Winter Games history, an achievement she was struggling to come to terms with upon receiving her medal.
“I have now won gold three times in a row, I can't believe it," she said.
“The pressure was enormous. I gave everything. I did not focus on a specific time, I just decided to skate a consistent race. Actually, because of that, I didn't start very well.”
Wüst’s success put the seal on a superb weekend’s speed skating for the Netherlands, who swept the podium in Saturday’s men’s 5,000m when Sven Kramer led in Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma for a one-two-three.
There was also joy for host nation Russia, which celebrated its first medal of Sochi 2014 after Olga Graf put in a lifetime-best 4:03.47 to claim a deserved bronze in front of a delighted crowd at the Adler Arena.