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Thomas Krol has won his first ever gold medal at the Dutch Single Distance Championships. The 27-year-old speed skater of Team Jumbo-Visma seized gold in the men's 1500-meter race on Saturday. Patrick Roest managed to win a silver medal. Carlijn Achtereekte took bronze at 3,000 meters at Thialf, Heerenveen.
Krol, who became world champion at 1,500 meters last season, took gold with a championship record of 1:43.86 (was 1:44.02 by Kjeld Nuis). Teammate Roest seized silver, crossing the line in 1:44.78 and Koen Verweij took bronze (1:45.89). Team Jumbo-Visma speed skaters Chris Huizinga (1:47.04), Sven Kramer (1:47.43) and Douwe de Vries (1:47.81) ended up in fifth, seventh and eighth place.
"This really means a lot to me", Krol admitted. "I had not won a Dutch title before, so it feels really good to take the win here today. Of course, I became world champion last season, but winning at a sold-out Thialf might be even better. With this time, I am getting close to the form I want to be at the World Single Distance Championships in Salt Lake City, United States."
"This was by far my best 1500-meter race of the season. My races had been a little bit unstable. At the ISU World Cup in Tomaszów Mazowiecki (Poland) it went really well, but two weeks later in Nur-Sultan, I had a poor performance. That's why I am really happy with today's outcome and time."
Roest was satisfied with his performance as well. "This was a really good race", he said. "Of course, there are always some things that I need to improve on, but I very happy with my silver medal. Without a doubt, Thomas was the best skater today. He skated so fast. I did everything I could to beat him, but I just was not good enough today."
Achtereekte won a bronze medal in the ladies' 3000-meter race. With a time of 4:02.20, she ended up behind Esmee Visser (4:01.29) and Irene Schouten (4:01.80). Last year's champion Antoinette de Jong had to settle for fourth place (4:02.23). Joy Beune, who seized bronze in the ladies' 1500-meter race on Friday, finished eighth (4.08,12).
"It was a decent race", Achtereekte said. "It was not bad, but not very good either. I ended up in third place by such a small margin, but sometimes all you need is a little bit of luck. Fortunately, I can show everyone that I am the best speed skater at the European and World Championships in 2020."
De Jong was really sad after losing her Dutch title. "I have been feeling really good of late, so I went into this tournament with a lot of confidence. It sucks that I lose out on third place by such a small margin. I am really disappointed."
Pictures: Stephan Tellier