Nesbitt nabs gold after "worst" race

Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:07pm EST
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By Larry Fine

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - One might think Canada's Christine Nesbitt would be giddy after winning gold in the women's 1,000 meters on Thursday, but the speedskating perfectionist was conflicted.

"I cannot believe I won," Nesbitt told reporters after a furious charge to the finish allowed her to overcome some panic at the start of the race and eventually claim Canada's third gold medal of the Vancouver Games. "Mixed emotions."

Nesbitt was 19th fastest after 200 meters and ninth best with a lap to go before her final kick put her two-hundredths of a second ahead of Dutch silver medalist Annette Gerritsen.

"It wasn't pretty, I know it wasn't pretty," said Nesbitt, the world champion and runaway World Cup leader who is unbeaten over the distance this season. "I was fortunate to win Olympic gold. It was probably the worst 1,000 I've done this year."

The analytical Nesbitt, 24, said she felt very nervous before the race and let it affect her.

"As soon as the gun went off, I panicked off the start. I had a slip after two or three steps. I wasn't quite right. In a sprint it's hard to get out of that. It can be tough to fix. I was almost trying too hard, maybe.

"I've had races like that, where I panicked, and I think that's why I was able to skate a good last lap because I've been there before and I was able to still finish strong."

While Nesbitt did not look happy after her time was posted, the home crowd thundered its approval when she edged into first place with one pair still to skate.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Christine Nesbitt competes in the women's 1000 metres speed skating race at the Richmond Olympic Oval during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 18, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>