Sablikova keeps Dutch challenge in Czech to retain 5,000m speed skating crown
Czech skater Martina Sablikova kept the Netherlands’ Ireen Wüst at bay to retain the women’s 5,000m speed skating title at the Adler Arena
Racing in the penultimate pair with Wüst, Sablikova crossed the line in 6 minutes 51.54 seconds. The Dutch skater finished 2.74 seconds behind her to take the silver, while her team-mate, Carien Kleibeuker completed a fairytale comeback to the rink to claim the bronze in 6 minutes 55.66
“After winning gold in Vancouver, it's great to win it here in Sochi as well, and this time in front of all my family,” said the 26-year-old Czech.
“They came here today especially for this race, and it's just great to win.”
Sablikova timed her tactics to perfection, allowing Wüst to make the early running, before slowly pulling back to overtake her rival with three laps to go.
The Czech won both the 3,000m and 5,000m titles in 2010, but had in the previous week ceded her title in the shorter distance to Wüst, having to content herself with silver.
Meanwhile, the 27-year old Dutchwoman took her Sochi 2014 medal count to four, having also won silver medals in the 1,000m and 1,500m.
“This feels totally different from my silver medal in the 1,500m," said the Dutch athlete.
“Now I feel like I have won silver. In the 1,500 it felt like losing gold.”
Kleibeuker, who had made an impressive comeback to competitive speed skating after taking time out to focus on being a mother, was left pinching herself after taking her place on the podium.
“It's actually hilarious. It is just unbelievable. I do this sport for fun and when I got this opportunity, the drive became more and more and it's just great to win a medal,” said the 35-year old, who was watched by her young daughter.
Dutch speed skaters have now won 21 of the 30 medals on offer in men's and women's events in Sochi, bagging six of the 10 golds awarded by the end of Day 12.