Minsk / Belarus

Martina Sáblíková (CZE) won both the 1500m and the 5000m to secure her fifth career European Allround title in style on Sunday in Minsk. Defending champion Ireen Wüst (NED) had to settle for silver and Antoinette de Jong (NED) took bronze.

In the men’s tournament Sven Kramer (NED) won a record extending eighth European title. Bart Swings (BEL) grabbed silver to become the second Belgian after Dutch-born Bart Veldkamp (BEL) in 2001 (silver) to claim a medal at the European Championships. Jan Blokhuijsen (NED) took bronze.

Ladies’ tournament

Sáblíková edges out Wüst in 1500m
Sáblíková edged out Wüst in the 1500m to confirm her dominance after three distances. After the first day Wüst had already admitted that challenging her Czech rival for the title would become difficult, but she had set her sights on winning the 1500m. Wüst started faster but Sáblíková stayed close. On the last straight the Czech even managed to pass the Dutchwoman to set a new track record in 1:57.00. Wüst finished 0.01 later and knew she had to settle for silver in the 1500m as well as in the overall classification.

After a good first day Ida Njåtun (NOR) could dream of a bronze medal in the overall ranking and she hung on to that dream with a good 1500m in 1:58.51. The Norwegian ended up third in the distance to move up to fourth place in the classification.

Marije Joling and Antoinette de Jong (NED) were also fighting for bronze. They faced each other in the 1500m and De Jong was lucky on the first cross-over. She had priority coming from the outer lane and Joling had to hold back a little. De Jong went on to win the pair in 1:58.80, but Joling stayed close with 1:58.90. De Jong was heading into the 5.000m as number three in the ranking, Njåtun was fourth and Joling fifth. The fight for bronze was still wide open.

Superb 5000m Sáblíková
Sáblíková was almost sure of her record fifth European title ahead of the 5000m, but she did not hold back. With 6:58.44 she destroyed Ireen Wüst (7:10.65) in the final pair. Sáblíková finished with a points total of 161.455, her best career European Championships total and better than Wüst’s 161.734 last year in Chelyabinsk. With her fifth gold the Czech lady equaled Anni Friesinger-Postma (GER) and Andrea Ehrig-Schöne (GDR) on five European Championship overall titles.

Sáblíková was almost 12 seconds faster than number two Marije Joling who finished the 5000m in 7:10.10. Joling set her time in the second pair battling Natalya Voronina (RUS), who kept chasing her opponent throughout the race to finish in 7:10.19 and take third place in the distance.

Joling had to wait for the third and penultimate pair to know whether it was good enough for bronze. Antoinette de Jong faced Ida Njåtun after Joling got off the track and the Dutch lady easily got rid of her Norwegian opponent. De Jong knew she had to skate below 7:13 to beat Joling in the overall classification and she managed to stay well below the necessary lap times. Despite a difficult last 1000m De Jong managed to achieve her goal with 7:11.83. Joling ended up fourth and Njåtun dropped down just behind Voronina to sixth place overall with the seventh 5000m time in 7:25.92.

Men’s tournament

Golden Yuskov withdraws
Denis Yuskov showed his speed winning the 1500m in 1:45.18, but the Russian withdrew from the tournament after three distances, despite being third in the classification. Bart Swings used the 1500m to climb up to second place in the overall classification. The Belgian finished second behind Yuskov in 1:46.41.

Sven Kramer and Jan Blokhuijsen fought a tough battle in the final pair of the 1500m, with the defending champion as winner in 1:48.08. Although it was only the fifth time in the 1500m, it was enough for Kramer to head into the 10,000m confidently. Blokhuijsen finished sixth in 1:48.79 and went into the 10,000m in third place.

Polish Jan Szymanski and Zbigniew Bródka finished third and fourth in the 1500m. Bródka did not manage to qualify for the 10,000m due to his 15th place in Saturday’s 5000m, but Szymanski reached the distance podium with 1:47.48 and climbed up to the top eight, to qualify for the final distance.

Swings secures silver
Bart Swings was the first of the podium candidates to take the ice in the 10,000m and the Belgian skated an impressive track record with 13:15.47, which was almost 26 seconds faster than Andrea  Giovannini (ITA), who had also set a new track record with 13:41.39 in the second pair. Giovannini ended up fifth in the distance and fifth overall, behind Håvard Bøkko (NOR). The Norwegian set 13:35.21 in his race with Swings to take fourth place both in the 10,000m and in the overall ranking.

Kramer had to secure his eighth title in the final pair versus Blokhuijsen, who was chasing Swings for silver. The defending champion managed to stay a little below Swing’s intermediate times throughout the entire race and even increased his lead in the final three laps. He clocked 13:11.98 to win the distance and the overall title. Blokhuijsen was behind Swings right from the start and the Belgian could watch the race with increasing confidence about his silver medal. His Dutch team mate finished almost seven seconds behind in 13:22.14.

With 150.464 Swings was close to Kramer in the overall ranking. The champion finished with a points total of 150.102. Blokhuijsen was further adrift in third with 151.176.