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Dutch delight: Sven Kramer leads sweep of speed skating 5000m

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

Sven Kramer won his second straight gold medal in the 5000 meters. (USATSI)
Sven Kramer won his second straight gold medal in the 5000 meters. (USATSI)
No country in the world loves long track speed skating the way the Netherlands loves long track speed skating -- meaning no country's Sochi Games is off to a more joyous start.

Led by 2010 Vancouver gold medalist Sven Kramer, the Dutch swept the podium in Saturday's 5,000 meters, Kramer defending his gold medal in an Olympic record 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds. Jan Blokhuijsen took silver in 6:15.71, and Jorrit Bergsma won bronze in 6:16.66.

17-year-old Emery Lehman was the top American finisher, placing 16th in his Olympic debut. Jonathan Kuck finished 19th and Patrick Meek 20th. All three American entrants, interestingly, are from Illinois.

Kramer's victory pulled the Netherlands within a single gold medal of the U.S.'s record 29 speed skating victories, and helped redeem Kramer from his infamous 2010 gaffe in which his coach directed him into the wrong lane in the 10,000 meters -- resulting in a disqualification in a race he otherwise would have won easily.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was in attendance, and was blown away by Kramer's dominating performance.

"What can you say? We could never have hoped for such a great result," the king said, per the Associated Press. "That Sven was able to deliver despite such pressure, it leaves me speechless. What can you say, such a great Olympic record."

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