BEIJING (VG) Ragne Wiklund (21) admits that she got a wake-up call when the Netherlands’ 35-year-old skating queen Ireen Wüst raced to the Olympic record (1.53,28) – and her sixth Olympic gold – before she even had to start. Norway’s reigning world champion finished in a disappointing 12th place.
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– Yes, it was raw to watch, and it is clear that it makes it extra scary to be at the start afterwards. It is a sickly impressive race, says Ragne Wiklund to VG in the press zone.
– Were you frightened?
– Yes, but at the same time there is not much else to expect from the level here now, she answers.
When asked if she is ill, injured or unwell, she answers “nope”, but the level of 1500 meters this year has been sky high.
It is at that distance that the all-rounders and sprinters meet, and perhaps at that competition is most razor-sharp.
Ragne Wiklund won World Cup gold in the 1500 meters in Heerenveen – Ireen Wüst’s home ground – a year ago. It was Norway’s first since Laila Schou Nilsen (all-round WC 1938) did it last year 83 years ago, and Ragne Wiklund’s triumph was surprising to say the least.
Now she had to be beaten by pair opponent Brittany Bowe (30) by 38/100 and by Wüst by over three seconds. It was the Dutchman’s third Olympic gold in the 1500 meters, her sixth overall – and Olympic medal number 12. She is the Netherlands’ most winning Olympic medalist.
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Ragne Wiklund had a time of 1.56.56, which is just over four seconds behind her personal record from Calgary two months ago.
– There is probably a reason. But I have no answer. I feel fine, so I think I’ll get back on the 5000 meters, she answers questions about why she did not get the turn in the race.
Two days ago, she took fifth place in the 3000 meters in the brand new prank arena in Beijing. The 5000-meter runs on Thursday.
– You seemed a little tough in the draw?
-Yes, you can probably say that. I felt I was offensive and not really doing a more stressful race than I had thought, she answers.
Sofie Karoline Haugen (26) finished in 28th place with 2.01.57 – just over eight seconds behind Ireen Wüst. Japan’s Miho Takagi came in second, 44/100 behind the gold winner, Antoinette de Jong in third place – a full second and a half behind the compatriot.