5,000 champion Kramer to skip 1,500 meters
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Speedskater Sven Kramer has decided that chasing four gold medals at the Sochi games would simply be too much.
The 5,000-meter champion said Wednesday he’s withdrawing from next Saturday’s 1,500 to concentrate on the 10,000 in hopes of winning his second gold of the games.
Kramer won the 5,000 and is the favorite to win the long distance race and lead the Netherlands to gold in the team pursuit during the concluding weekend.
He said Wednesday that adding the 1,500 would likely be too much of a distraction during his preparation for the 10,000 on Feb. 18, which he is determined to win after a costly blunder at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Four years ago, gold was seemingly assured until his coach sent him into the wrong lane on a crossover and Kramer was disqualified.
Kramer called skipping the 1,500 “a very tough decision,” especially since his coach and pundits both have said he is in such great form he could upset the odds and win gold in the classic middle-distance event.
His performances however, don’t bear that out. He finished 15th at the 2006 Turin Games and 13th in Vancouver. And even though Kramer has 13 single distance world titles, he only has one silver in the 1,500, and that was in 2008.
On top of that, it would upset his long-distance preparations. He has said he’s only interested in winning the gold, so finishing with a lesser medal might provide more hassle than joy, requiring ceremonial commitments that would reduce the time available to hone his 10,000 skills.
Skipping the 1,500 is “to stay focused on my 10000 m and the Team Pursuit event,” he wrote in a Twitter feed.
The last speedskater to win the 1,500-5,000-10,000 triple was Johann Olav Koss at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.
Jan Blokhuijsen, the 5,000 silver medalist, will take Kramer’s place on the Dutch roster for the 1,500.
Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert