Takagi claims first ever Olympic women’s mass start speed skating title
Nana Takagi (JPN) claimed her second gold medal of PyeongChang 2018 as she won the inaugural Olympic women’s mass start on Saturday 24 February at the Gangneung Oval.
In an exhilarating finish to the 16-lap race, the 25-year-old produced a fine sprint round the final bend to overtake home favourite and reigning world champion Kim Bo-reum, while 2015 world champion, Irene Schouten (NED) took the bronze.
Takagi, who also helped Japan to win gold in the team pursuit, did not pick up any points in the three intermediate sprints after laps 4, 8 and 12, but her late surge to cross the line in first place handed her victory with 60 points for winning the final sprint.
Afterwards, the gold medallist admitted that her task had been made harder after seeing her fellow Japanese competitor Ayano Sato exit during the semi-finals, as it meant that she had to adjust her tactics, but that it also left her feeling all the more determined to go for victory on her own.
“If Ayano were still in it, we would have worked together and gone for a one-two so that was a little disappointing. With Sato not around, I felt like I had to step up and go for it on her behalf as well.
“I still had my legs underneath me toward the end, enough to give it one good sprint for the finish.”
Takagi admitted that was also spurred on to victory by the fact that her more feted younger sister, Miho had already won three medals – one of each colour – at PyeongChang 2018.
“I was able to show that the Takagi family name is not just all about Miho but Nana, too. It was nice to achieve this in a new event."
"I’m really happy that I can end the Olympics in such a wonderful way. Now, I haven’t got that many good results in individual disciplines, so I want to become an athlete as good as my little sister.
Meanwhile, home favourite Kim, was clearly disappointed not to be able to deliver gold in front of her home fans, but was equally keen to pay tribute to the athlete who had beaten her to the line.
“[Takagi] is an amazing athlete, she put in an amazing performance. I did the best I could today and I’m sure that she did her best today as well, so my congratulations to her.”