Heerenveen / Netherlands

Antoinette de Jong (NED) handed the Netherlands their first World Cup victory of the season on Sunday after a long weekend of waiting in Heerenveen.

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After Japan had already won six gold medals in the first two-and-a-half days of racing, De Jong finally gave the home crowd a victory when she won the ladies 3000m. 

It was De Jong’s first individual career World Cup win. The 22-year-old challenged Ireen Wüst (NED) and Martina Sáblíková (CZE) last season, but never managed to beat both of them in one race. 

At the Dutch national championships in October, De Jong took Wüst’s scalp when she grabbed the Dutch 3000m title, and now she has finally beaten Czech Sáblíková too. 

“I think nobody has ever been so excited about winning a World Cup than me today,” she said with a smile after finishing in 4:03.53.

Natalia Voronina (RUS) took silver in 4:04.00 and Ivanie Blondin (CAN) grabbed bronze in 4:04.16. Wüst finished sixth in 4:05.54 and Sáblíková seventh in 4:05.70.

De Jong acknowledged that one World Cup gold does not give any guarantees for future races.

“Of course this is great. I feel great and I’m very confident about the rest of the season, but this is just one weekend,” she said. “I have to perform next weekend again and there are many races yet to come.”

Sáblíková complained about a back injury. “I’m in so much pain,” said the Czech. “I’ve had a back injury for one month and nobody knows what to do about it.”

The long distance specialist has no room for rest, however. “I have to skate in the next World Cups to secure my place in the Olympic 5000m,” she said.

Full results and classifications.