GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Dutch speed skater Kjeld Nuis held his nerve to claim gold in the men’s Olympic 1,000 metres by the slimmest of margins ahead of Norwegian Havard Lorentzen at the Gangneung Oval on Friday.
Racing in the final pair, Nuis finished 0.04 seconds ahead of Lorentzen to win his second gold medal of the Games. South Korea’s Kim Tae-yun took bronze.
The 28-year-old Nuis, who also won gold in the 1,500m, took a quick glance at the big screen inside the Oval as he crossed the finish line before raising his arms in celebration.
He completed half a lap of the track before covering his face in his hands as the enormity of becoming a double Olympic champion dawned on him. Stepping on to the podium, he leapt high into the air before accepting his medal.
“I can’t believe it,” Nuis told reporters. “I came here, it’s my first Olympics and now I raced two distances and I go home with two times gold. I couldn’t be more happy than this.”
Lorentzen, who won gold in the men’s 500m, started well and put in a quick first lap before finishing strongly to take top spot ahead of Kim.
“I won the gold medal by one hundredth of a second, today I lose by four hundredths, so I’m not disappointed,” Lorentzen said. “That’s sprints, it’s close.”
Nuis had to wait for another pair to go around before lining up himself, and he jumped the gun for a false start and had to be called back to the line again.
“I had to reset myself, because the first time the blade was not good in the ice,” he said. “I felt it breaking so I thought, no this is not it.”
He made no mistake on his second attempt, however, going 0.15 seconds faster than the Norwegian over the first 200 metres, but was slower over the next 400, giving up 0.12 seconds as the splits between the two narrowed dramatically.
“The second start was good,” Nuis added. “A few mistakes in the second inner corner, I was a bit on the outside so I had to jump over the line and then I was into the race and then I raced good.”
He went 0.01 seconds quicker than Lorentzen in the last lap to win the Netherlands’ seventh Olympic speed skating gold in South Korea.
Nuis thanked Finland’s Mika Poutala, who raced with him in the final pair, for a display of sportsmanship.
“On the last crossover Mika Poutala just saved my life,” Nuis said. “He let me go first and I think that’s really sporting of him.”
The Dutch have won 18 medals at the Games and all have come in skating events, with 14 on the long track and four, including one gold, in the short track events.
Nuis, who placed first in the distance at the world single distance championships in Gangneung, was the first reigning world champion to win Olympic gold in men’s 1,000m.
He was also the third man to win the 1000m and 1500m at the same Winter Olympics, after American Eric Heiden in 1980 and Canada’s Gaetan Boucher in 1984.
Reporting by Simon Jennings, editing by Ed Osmond