Speed skating: Fireman Brodka douses Dutch hot streak

Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:29pm EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Poland's Zbigniew Brodka denied the Dutch another Olympic speed skating gold medal by winning the men's 1,500 meters by just three thousands of a second on Saturday, while a change of suit failed to reverse America's slide on the Adler Arena ice.

Part-time fireman Brodka clocked one minute, 45 seconds in the 17th of 20 heats but then was left with his heart in his mouth as Dutch skater Koen Verweij crossed the finish line in the same time in the final pairing.

All eyes were fixed on the giant scoreboard at the Adler Arena as organizers tried to split them before determining the Pole had been victorious by the tiny margin.

"Its unbelievable," Brodka told reporters

"First of all I wasn't sure, but in the back of my mind I believed I had won. When I saw I had won it was an unbelievable feeling."

Brodka, 29, grabbed the Polish flag and took off on a lap of honor as he celebrated his country's first Olympic gold medal in speed skating despite not having a covered oval to train on at home.

He said he had commiserated with Verweij on the podium during the flower ceremony but added "that is sport".

Verweij's medal was the 13th for the Dutch in speed skating in Sochi, tying East Germany's record for most medals in the sport at a Winter Olympics.   Continued...

Winner Poland's Zbigniew Brodka celebrates on the podium during the flower ceremony for the men's 1,500 metres speed skating race in the Adler Arena at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Marko Djurica