Ireen Wüst skated in the record book at the Beijing Games on Monday, becoming the first athlete to claim individual gold medals at five different Olympics.
The 35-year-old Wüst was already the most equipped speed skater in the history of the Winter Olympics when he added to his race with a victory in the 1,500 meters.
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It has given the Dutch star a total of a dozen medals, a collection he began collecting during his debut at the 2006 Turin Games.
But what made this one really stand out was the color.
She has now got six of them – five in individual events that have been evenly distributed – at each Olympics she has competed in her extraordinary career.
On the biggest stage, Wüst always seems to shine.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I can only see the rings and something magical is happening.”
Wüst was part of an elite group of winter and summer athletes to win individual gold at the four Olympics, joined by icons such as Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis and Al Otter. British rover Steve Redgrave has won five Olympic gold medals, but each of those victories came as part of a two- or four-member team.
Wüst did it all on his own.
The enormity of his accomplishments has not yet sunk.
“Of course it means a lot, but I still don’t understand it,” said Wüst, who is retiring after the Olympics. “Ask me this question again in 10 days. I have a mental mess in my head.”
Wast defended his title at 1,500 at the Ice Ribbon Oval with an Olympic record time of 1 minute, 53.28 seconds.
Miho Takagi of Japan claimed the silver in a time of 1: 53.72, while the bronze went to Antoinette de Jong of the Netherlands in a time of 1: 54.82.
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Wüst tore off his hood, threw up his arm, and tilted his head back in joy at seeing his time on the scoreboard.
“He was the perfect runner at the best moment,” De Jong said.
The mighty Dutch team has won its second gold in three speed skating events, establishing itself for another big performance after dominating the Oval in the last two winter games.
“An Olympic record on this track is amazing,” Wüst said. “I was really fast. I’m really proud of myself that I gave my best 1,500 in the biggest moment.”
This was another Olympic disappointment for Brittany Boy. The 33-year-old American again fell short in search of his first individual medal, eventually fading badly and finishing 10th at 1: 55.81.
Wüst just keep getting stronger. Surprisingly, he won a medal in the 1,500 – a race that requires the speed of a sprinter and the strength of a patient skater – in all five of his Olympics.
He has won a silver and a bronze as well as three golds.
“Words can’t describe her class,” Boye said. “He’s the greatest of all time, as his performances show. Another Olympic gold medal in Olympic record fashion. I’ve been honored to compete against him for so many years, and more than that I’ve been able to call him a friend.”
Wüst broke the previous Olympic mark of 1: 53.51 set by Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Bowie, 33, a former college basketball player and inline champion who is one of three American skaters in Oklahoma, Florida, has long been a staunch supporter of the US program.
But the last two Olympics have been disappointing for the four-time world champion, whose only medal came four years ago when he was part of the bronze-winning team in the team pursuit.
The 2018 games were especially painful for Boy, who finished fourth and two fifth in his individual event, losing three medals in less than a second.
After carrying the American flag at the opening ceremony, he was not even close to his first event at the Beijing Games. Boe was 2 1/2 seconds behind the winner and finished about one second off the podium.
“Coming from the sprint side of things, I have to keep it going,” he said. “I have to try to use my speed to my advantage. In the end I didn’t have legs.”
Boy has two more separate events to redeem himself. He also qualified in the 500 and 1,000.
“I gave my all and I am excited for the next opportunity,” he said. “I’m really excited for 1,000. I’m definitely going there for gold at the end of the competition.”