PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer is still having sleepless nights over his failure in the Olympic 10,000 meters race but is trying to take consolation from his record-breaking 5,000 performance.
The 31-year-old became the first male speed skater to get a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the same event in the 5,000m but a maiden 10,000 title again proved elusive.
“It has affected me to my core and I am struggling to deal with it and, of course, it is keeping me up at nights,” Kramer told Dutch television at the Games.
“I am trying to put things in perspective and trying to enjoy what I have achieved. I had difficulty doing that in the past but I think I’m doing it better now.”
Kramer was all set for a grandstand triumph in the 10,000m as he went last in Gangneung but never found his rhythm to finish sixth and continue a personal curse in the event.
Eight years ago in Vancouver, Kramer crossed the line first but was disqualified for choosing the wrong lane and he had to settle for silver in Sochi four years ago after finishing behind team mate Jorrit Bergsma.
Kramer, who has won the 10,000m on five occasions at the world championships and broken the world record three times, was highly fancied to break his duck in Pyeongchang.
He refuted the suggestion that he was spooked by the time of 12 minutes 39.77 seconds set by Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen, which proved good enough for gold.
“I am the last to deny that the mental aspect plays a role but I went to the ice rink with the assumption that I would need to come home in around 12 minutes and 40 seconds to win,” Kramer said.
“So I wasn’t going ‘wow, how hard’ when I saw Ted-Jan’s time. But it just didn’t happen for me.”
Kramer had previously said he would skate for two more years but now the 10,000m gold in Beijing in four years times might be tempting him.
“I’m not ruling it out but at the moment I’m not thinking about it. I’m taking it from year-to-year. Is my career not complete unless I have the 10km gold? That is a question I will have to ask myself. My body and spirit, in any case, continue to be strong.”
Reporting by Mark Gleeson,; Editing by Ed Osmond