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Japan''s Miho Takagi (left), Ayano Sato (centre) and Nana Takagi race in the women''s team pursuit final on Wednesday en route to a gold medal. © Kyodo News

Olympic Games News

Japan’s speed skating sisters race to gold in team pursuit

Date : 22 Feb 2018

Gangneung, Korea, February 21, 2018: Japan clocked a new Olympic record time in winning the gold medal in the speed skating women’s team pursuit at Gangneung Oval on Wednesday night. Japan, featuring the Takagi sisters Miho and Nana along with Ayano Sato in the final, raced home in 2 minutes, 53.89 seconds to beat the defending champions Netherlands, who clocked 2:55.48 for silver. It was Japan’s third gold medal of PyeongChang 2018.

Japan’s time eclipsed the previous Olympic record of 2:55.61 set by the Netherlands two days earlier. The Japanese women’s pursuit team now holds the Olympic record and world record (2:50.87). In the final, Japan started well but the Dutch edged ahead at the mid-point. Finishing strongly, the Japanese timed their run to perfection and blazed away around the final lap to win comfortably, putting considerable distance between themselves and the Dutch.

For Miho, it was her third medal of PyeongChang 2018 and completed the set of gold (Team Pursuit), silver (1,500m) and bronze (1,000m). She was also one of the stars of the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games last February, winning three gold medals on home ice at Obihiro, near Sapporo. In the final of the men’s team pursuit that followed the women’s final, Korea had to settle for silver behind new Olympic champions Norway.

Korea (Lee Seung-hoon, Chung Jae-won and Kim Min-seok) were down early but rallied at the mid-point and took a narrow lead. However, the Norwegians finished strongly and were comfortable winners at the end. Norway clocked 3:37.31 to Korea’s 3:38.52. The evening had begun with the semi-finals of the ladies’ team pursuit, with the winner of each semi-final advancing to the final, regardless of the times in the two races.

The Netherlands beat the United States comfortably in the first semi-final and Japan beat Canada in the second, with the Japanese trio comprising the Takagi sisters and Ayaka Kikuchi. This set up a Japan-Netherlands showdown for gold. In the women’s classification races, China (Li Dan, Liu Jing and Hao Jiachen) finished fifth by beating Germany and Korea (Kim Bo-reum, Park Ji-woo and Noh Seon-yeong) finished eighth after losing to Poland.

The United States won the bronze by defeating Canada in the B final. In the men’s semi-finals, Korea (Lee Seung-hoon, Chung Jae-won and Kim Min-seok) finished strongly to edge out New Zealand, and Norway recorded an Olympic record time of 3:37.08 in defeating the Dutch in the second semi-final. In the men’s classification races, Japan (Shane Williamson, Seitaro Ichinohe and Ryosuke Tsuchiya) finished fifth when Italy was disqualified. The Netherlands beat New Zealand to take the bronze medal.

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