The Netherlands’ Jorien Ter Mors set a new Olympic record to take gold in the women's 1,500m, as Dutch athletes swept the top four places, underlining their dominance of the speed skating events in Sochi.
Dutch skaters have turned the Adler Arena orange in the first nine days of competition at Sochi 2014, winning 16 of 24 medals on offer and taking five golds out of eight awarded.
Ter Mors - racing in the ninth pair - went almost 4.5 seconds quicker than previous race leader Olga Fatkulina of Russia, setting a new Olympic benchmark of 1 minute 53.51 seconds that none of the other skaters could touch..
Defending champion Ireen Wüst, who had already won the 3,000m and taken silver in the 1,000m, came second, 0.58 seconds behind Ter Mors, while Lotte Van Beek took bronze with a time of 1:54.54. Marrit Leenstra finished fourth to complete a perfect afternoon for the Dutch.
With nine pairs still to go, the 24-year-old Ter Mors faced a long and anxious wait as her rivals chased down her time.
Two finals in 24 hours
When the last racers crossed the line the 24-year-old, who, remarkably, also competed in the short track at Sochi 2014, raised her arms in triumph and could not hold back her emotions.
“I'm not used to these kinds of situations,” admitted an emotional Ter Mors. “In short track you know immediately if you have won. Now I had to wait and it was very nerve-wracking.”
“I never expected to win gold here, but I had a very good race. Technically it was good. I kept pace, I skated in a compact position, it was just about keeping skating,” she added.
“At the finish line I looked up and I was first.”
Ter Mors’ victory was rendered all the more remarkable by the fact that, just 24 hours earlier, she had competed in the women’s 1,500m short track final.
No skater in history had previously straddled the two disciplines in this manner at the Olympic Winter Games.
Wüst equals Dutch record
Her compatriot Wüst, who had started the race as hot favourite, was philosophical about missing out on gold. "I tried to be satisfied because Jorien was just the best today," said the 2010 gold medallist.
“My race was 90 percent and I needed 100 percent to win the gold,” added the silver medallist, who equalled the Dutch record of six Olympic Winter Games medals held by Rintje Ritsma.
It is the first time that athletes from the same country have taken the top four places in any event at an Olympic Winter Games since East Germany achieved the feat in the men's luge in Sapporo in 1972.