Ireen Wust won her third Olympic gold medal as she romped home to victory in the women's 3,000-meter speedskating event.
Defending champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic took silver, while Russian Olga Graf won an emphatic bronze.
Graf had briefly threatened to cause an upset and send the home crowd into raptures as she blitzed around the Adler Arena. The 30-year-old clocked a time of four minutes, 3.47 seconds.
|2.||Martina Sablikova||Czech Republic||4:01.95|
|5.||Annouk van der Weijden||Netherlands||4:06.73|
|7.||Antoinette de Jong||Netherlands||4:09.36|
Despite the eight skaters to come, the home athlete's time was just enough to cling on for a bronze medal and secure the host's first medal of the Games.
Sablikova topped Graf's time as she came home in 4:01.95, but she did not hold on to pole position for long as Wust stepped onto the ice next.
The Dutch skater, who won over the same distance in 2006, blew away her Czech rival by over 1.5 seconds in 4:00.34. Among the spectators at the Adler Arena, Wust was cheered home by King Willem-Alexander of Holland.
So impressive was Wust's display that Sablikova clapped her rival off the ice, as reported by the Associated Press' Paul Newberry, via ABC News. Sonali Karnick of CBC Radio One in Quebec tweeted her appreciation of Wust's victory:
NED Ireen Wust gets the gold medal in the ladies 3000m. She also won gold in 2006 and gold in the 1500m in 2010. Class act. @cbcolympics— Sonali Karnick (@sonalikarnick) February 9, 2014
The victory reaffirms the Netherlands' superiority on the ice, as they completed a 1-2-3 in the men's 5,000 meters Saturday. The win also sent the Netherlands up to second in the medal table, with four, two of which being gold. All of those medals have come at the Adler Arena.
Elsewhere, 41-year-old Claudia Pechstein missed out on winning a remarkable 10th Olympic medal. The German struggled to stay in contention over the final laps and eventually had to settle for fourth with a time of 4:05.26.
But for Wust, it was a third taste of Olympic glory, with another shot to come in the 5,000-meter event on Feb. 19. Fans should expect her to be ready, just as she announced on Twitter and Instagram Saturday heading into Sunday's event:
She will also go for the 1,500-meter event, where she is hot favorite to take home gold. And it is difficult to see past Wust leading home the Dutch pursuit team to gold.
If Wust can add one more gold to her resume, she would join Fanny Blankers-Koen—one of the most successful Dutch Olympic athletes of all time—on four gold medals.