World record holder Nils van der Poel bagged his first Olympic gold medal in the men’s 5,000m speed skating competition at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics here on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Swede, known for his stamina, stunned spectators on the final lap and clocked a winning time of six minutes and 08.84 seconds to lower the Olympic record of 6:09.76 set by Dutchman Sven Kramer at PyeongChang 2018.
“After halfway, I thought I’ve got to go now. So I was launching for it,” he commented after the race.
Van der Poel, who only ranked 14th at PyeongChang 2018, thus becomes the first Swedish medalist in speed skating since the 1988 Games in Calgary.
“I am really happy with how it turned out. It was the Olympic race and that was all I wanted,” he said.
Patrick Roest of the Netherlands, who had qualified first in the discipline at the Dutch trials, notched the silver medal in 6:09.31, with his new Olympic record set in an earlier run lasting only half an hour. 22-year-old Norwegian Hallgeir Engebraaten finished third in 6:09.88.
Kramer failed to add another medal to his tally of nine Olympic medals as the 35-year-old veteran skater concluded the 5,000m in the ninth place after winning the distance for a record three consecutive Olympic Games.
“When I went to the rink, I knew this was the last time I would skate the 5,000m. I tried everything but it wasn’t enough. It’s a pity,” he said.
The women’s 1,500m is scheduled on Monday.