Kroll adds world sprint title to his amazing resume

Kroll adds world sprint title to his amazing resume

Thomas Krol has given his already successful speed skating season even more shine. After winning his first ever gold medal at the Olympics two weeks ago, the 29-year-old-sprint took the world sprint title for the first time in his career. Team Jumbo-Visma teammate Kai Verbij seized silver in Hamar, Norway.

Of course, Krol was 'very happy' with his first world sprint title, but he didn't want to cheer too loud. Not appropriate, he thought, since one of his main rivals Laurent Dubreuil tested positive for the corona virus on Friday afternoon. The 29-year-old Canadian was comfortably in the lead halfway through the tournament and had a good chance at taking gold. "Of course, I was shocked," Krol confessed. "You just don't want that to happen to anyone."

Due to the withdrawal of Dubreuil, Krol suddenly took the lead of 0.12 seconds on teammate Verbij. Verbij came back in the men's second 500-meter race (35.07 versus 35.27) and regained the lead. The gap between the two speed skaters of Team Jumbo-Visma was 0.16 seconds going into the final distance.

Krol, the Olympic champion in the 1,000m, entered the ice in the final stage of the event and skated to a time of 1:08.51. Of course, he was not as fast as the day before when he set a new track record of 1:08.16. However, he more than made up for his gap with Verbij, who set a time of 1:08.92. A satisfied Krol could add another gold medal to his impressive resume.

"I'm very happy. It's amazing that I can add this title to the list," Krol, who has now won all the international tournaments (not counting the World Allround Championships), said. "That I won the European sprint championship was already a big surprise, but I never thought that I would win this one. Unfortunately, I needed a little bit of help this weekend."

"I have mixed feelings about this, since Laurent showed that he was the best yesterday. Of course, he definitely should have skated for it today, but it would have been very difficult to beat him." He owed his title mainly to his good first 1,000-meter race, in which he made up a lot of time on the 500-meter specialists. "That was a very good race, maybe even better than in Beijing. In the second 1,000m, I noticed that I started to run out of energy."

Krol is the sixth Dutchman, after Jan Bos, Erben Wennemars, Stefan Groothuis, Michel Mulder and Verbij, who has won the world sprint title. Verbij, who was the last Dutchman who claimed the world sprint title in 2017, had to settle for second place this year. The 27-year-old Verbij ended up 0.25 seconds behind Krol in the general classification.

"This silver medal feels a bit like a consolation prize. Of course, I would have liked to win here, but the fact that Laurent didn't start today, already made the tournament less beautiful," Verbij, who ended up on the podium of a World Sprint Championship for the fourth time in his career, said. "I never won a silver medal at this tournament, so now I have won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals. I think that's not bad at all.

Team Jumbo-Visma speed skater Tijmen Snel, who made his debut at the World Sprint Championship, finished tenth.

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