Sven Kramer of the Netherlands broke the Olympic record Saturday in the 5,000m event with a time of 6:14:60, on his way to his first Olympic gold medal.
The 23-year-old Dutch superstar was the heavy favourite coming into the event as he has gone undefeated in the World Cup circuit since Nov. 11 2007. An Olympic title was the only victory he had yet to accomplish in the 5,000m.
Kramer’s victory marked the 100th time the Netherlands has stood atop the podium in both the summer and winter games.
Korea’s Seung-Hoon Lee finished 2.35 seconds behind Kramer claiming the silver medal and Ivan Skobrev’s time of 6:18:05 held up to win the bronze medal for Russia.
The other Russian competitor, Alexander Rumyantsev, was disqualified after he got in the way of his race partner Slawomir Chmura of Poland while he was switching from the inside to the outside lane.
Canada’s Lucas Makowsky skated over five seconds faster than he has ever skated at the Richmond Olympic Oval and finished in 13th place.
This was the Regina, Saskatchewan native’s first Olympic experience.
“I just tried to think of it as any other race,” Makowsky told CTV. “That’s what worked for me in the past so that’s all I tried to do here.”
Denny Morrison, who finished in 18th place, was not a medal hopeful for Canada in the 5,000m. His specialties are the 1,000m and 1,500m but he used the event to get used to competing on the Olympic stage.
“I just wanted to go and show the crowd how I can skate,” Morrison said to CTV. “I definitely got some of the jitters out so that’s good.”
The crowd applauded the Canadians for their efforts after their races but the arena exploded at the start of Kramer’s race. He is a celebrity in the Netherlands as speed skating is as popular with the Dutch as hockey is with Canadians.
Kramer is also the favourite to win the 10,000m event and is hoping to lead the Dutch to victory in team pursuit after a disappointing finish in 2006.