February 22, 2014 / 3:18 PM / 5 years ago

Speed skating: Double Dutch delight in team pursuits

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The flying Dutch men and women wrapped up the Sochi speed skating competition by cruising to both Olympic team pursuit titles on Saturday.

The team from the Netherlands, (L-R) Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Koen Verweij celebrate after competing in the men's speed skating team pursuit Gold-medal final during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

The two golds, both won in Olympic record times, took the Dutch tally to eight out of a possible 12 at the Adler Arena, which included four medal sweeps in the 10 individual events.

It was a show of power like no other at a Winter Olympics.

The Soviet Union won six golds in the sport at the 1960 Games, while South Korea matched the half dozen in short track at the 2006 Turin Games.

The men’s trio of 5,000 meters champion Sven Kramer, Jan Blokhuijsen and Koen Verweij traded the lead early with the Koreans in the final, where the teams start on opposite sides of the oval and the winners are the first team to have all three athletes complete the eight-lap distance.

But the Koreans could not maintain the electric pace as the Dutch went on to win in an Olympic record time of three minutes 37.71 seconds, three seconds ahead of the Asian skaters.

“This was an amazing race, the best we ever skated, the three of us,” Blokhuijsen told reporters.

“We sacrificed our individual programs the last four years to do this. It is a great feeling. It is fantastic to race so fast in the Olympic final.”

The silver medal was a first for the Korean men at the oval.

They were the top speed skating nation in Vancouver but Lee Sang-hwa’s gold in the women’s 500m was their only title in Sochi.

Poland clawed back an early deficit to beat defending champions Canada in the bronze medal skate off, Zbigniew Brodka picking up his second medal of the Games after his 1,500m victory.

Kramer and his team mates then watched from inside the oval as the Dutch women men won the final in even more emphatic fashion over Poland, the last race on the low altitude ice.

Olympic 3,000m champion Ireen Wust collected her fifth medal of the Games, a joint record, as she teamed up with 1,500m winner Jorien ter Mors and Marrit Leenstra in completing the six laps in two minutes 58.05 seconds. Poland were 7.5 seconds back

Home fans were left cheering after Russia proved too good for Japan in the women’s bronze medal decider.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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