Speed skater Sven Kramer (NED) has won his fourth Olympic Winter Games gold medal, and his third consecutive 5,000m title. Now he hopes for yet another gold medal at PyeongChang 2018 when he competes in the 10,000m tomorrow.
When 31-year-old Kramer reflected on what keeps driving him towards becoming the most successful Olympic speed skater in the sport’s history, he smiled and said: “I think my secret is that I just really love what I’m doing.”
Like Swiss tennis star Roger Federer, another mature athlete who never seems to grow tired of the work that goes into winning titles, Kramer makes winning seem easy. “I'm really enjoying the sport,” said the Dutchman, who set an Olympic record of 6:9.76 at in the 5,000m at Gangneung Oval on 11 February.
“It keeps me up every day. I have a really, really nice team. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really tough sometimes, but in the end enjoying it is the big secret.”
World record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) had set the pace in the 5,000m, but Kramer’s race was a masterpiece of timing. He started off slowly but powered along strongly just as his rivals were beginning to find the going tough.
Kramer is a nine-time World Allround champion and is now out in front among male speed skaters as an eight-time Winter Olympic Games medallist. He doesn’t think too much about his status as men’s speed skating’s all-time best, though. “It’s a nice fact, but I’m already looking forward to the next distance,” Kramer said, as he looks forward to competing for gold in the 10,000m tomorrow. Kramer has yet to win a gold medal in that event.
What makes a winner
Kramer’s rivals aren’t arguing about whether he’s the sport’s greatest. “That goes without saying now,” said Alexis Contin (FRA), who finished 11th in the 5,000m.
“I trained with [Kramer] for one year and I know how much work he puts into it still. Why is he so great? It’s a bit of everything. [He has] a great physical capacity. Technically he skates really well and he has an extreme will to win.”
Kramer appeared surprisingly calm after his race. Afterwards he gave a mysterious explanation for his cool attitude. “There's more coming, right,” he said. How much more? “I don't know, man, I wish I could tell you. Let's see...”