Nuis continues Dutch speed skating dominance with gold in men’s 1,500m
Dutch speed skaters added two further medals to the nation’s growing tally at PyeongChang 2018 with world champion Kjeld Nuis powering to gold in the men's 1,500m ahead of compatriot Patrick Roest at the Gangneung Ice Arena on Tuesday 13 February.
Republic of Korea’s Kim Min-seok sparked wild celebrations on and off the ice by taking bronze to open the host’s speed skating account at these Games.
Nuis, the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold in the distance, made a blistering start and finished in one minute 44.01 seconds despite losing speed on the final lap. Skating in the fourth pair of the evening, 22-year-old Roest set the time to beat, powering across the line in 1 minute 44.86 seconds.
Racing after Nuis, Kim responded to the cheers of the crowd with a huge effort and made a late surge in the last two laps to finish 0.07 seconds behind Roest in third.
The Dutch team have now won 8 of 12 medals, including all four golds. At Sochi 2014, they secured 23 out of 36 medals.
Nuis admitted that it might take time for it to sink in that he is both reigning Olympic and world champion.“I can't even describe the feeling, it's really weird,” he said. “I have to calm down just a little. I'm OK, I'm really, really happy. It means a lot. I've worked so, so hard and this is something really special. You can feel my heartbeat, it's crazy.”
Nuis also admitted that the crowd played a big part in creating a memorable atmosphere. “It was really good, better than last year,” he said. “Also, my family is also here. My wife and my little kid will come for the 1,000m, so that's going to be even better. I'm a really happy man.”
Peaked at the right time
Also happy was fellow Dutchman Roest, who says his win was at odds with his form coming into these Olympic Winter Games.
“I actually can't believe it,” he enthused. “One month ago, I couldn't expect that I would be on the podium here. My season wasn't great so far. My only international race was a month ago and I finished 14th. To finish second here is unbelievable.
“During the race I felt good, felt like I had a lot of speed. Sometimes that's my problem and the last lap is very hard. In the end, the last lap was difficult for everyone, so I was good.”
Bronze medal winner Min Seok said he was honoured to have finished on the podium in front of a home crowd.
“I didn't think I would get the medal, but I'm pretty happy that I was able to. It's the biggest honour as an athlete to win an Olympic medal,” he said. “I feel proud to perform in my home country. The crowd also gave me a boost and supported me throughout the race. I had a sort of dissatisfaction in my performance, but with the home crowd cheering me on I was able to do my best.”