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Kramer wins 5,000 meters in Olympic-record time

Dutch superstar followed on podium by teammates Blokhuijsen, Bergsma
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As expected, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands was dominant in winning the 5,000 meters, taking the gold in an Olympic-record time of 6:10.76. Kramer is also the 2006 and 2010 Olympic champion at that distance. -Getty Images

The Dutch swept the 5,000 meters, which they have won at every Olympics since 1998, at the Adler Arena on Saturday afternoon, and the expected favorite, Sven Kramer, withstood the pressure and won the gold in an Olympic-record time of 2:10.76. Jan Blokhuijsen and Jorrit Bergsma took silver and bronze, respectively.

The last block of four races started with the favorite, Kramer. He had to set a fast time that would hold against the attacks of the six skaters after him. He opened in 18.60 and followed with a long series of 29-second laps, ranging from 29.1 to 29.8 in his final lap. Kramer knew this was the pace he needed for victory.

America's hope, Jonathan Kuck, had the honor of being Kramer's pair mate, but Kramer did not see much of him, as Kuck finished 21 seconds after the champion, in 6:31.53, two-thirds of a lap behind.

"We knew 6:10 was possible, but the last 24 hours the tension came; I was crazy, my brain was flipping all over," Kramer said. "The 29s came really easy, but I did not expect it would be a 6:10. I think it was my best race ever.

"There was a lot of pressure, partly from myself, partly from the press and the crowd. I was the only guy who could lose this competition today. I felt that pressure. Anything less than gold would have been a disappointment. After my race I thought, 'This was it. I could not go one centimeter faster.'"

After Kramer's race, it was Bergsma's turn. Bergsma started with a few 28-second laps, but then his times gradually for slower, finishing with two 31-second laps at the end. His time was 6:16.66.

"I felt really good, and felt I could go for gold and skated for that, but I blew my legs," Bergsma said. "It was not a good race. That is most disappointing. Had I skated a good race and it had brought me silver or bronze, I would have been more satisfied."

"Of course, one-two-three is beautiful for the Netherlands. The competition is so stiff in Holland that it brings us all to a higher level."

Next came an interesting race between the pair of Blokhuijsen and Bart Swings (Belgium). Swings started with two 28-second laps, whereas Blokhuijsen opened in a fast 17.95, followed by a string of 29s. After his first 28, Swings had taken the lead, only to have Blokhuijsen reel him in at 2,600 meters, at which point they were equal and only 0.16 behind the intermediate time of Kramer. Blokhuijsen finished with laps of 30.0, 30.5 and 31.1 en route to a time of 6:15.71 and the silver.

"It is a big event. My first Olympic Games as a potential medal-winner brings pressure, and also expectations, as I was hitting every stroke well this entire week, being in the best shape of my life," Blokhuijsen said.

The best American was promising youngster Emery Lehman, only 17 years of age, who was 16th with a time of 6:29.94. He managed to keep his laps between 29.8 and 31.9, a steady race of mid-30 laps, until 3,400 meters, when he dropped into the 31s.

Lehman's teammate, Patrick Meek, who skated in the first pair, finished in 6:32.94. 

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