Dutch skater captures gold
Prime Minister Balkenende interrupted economic talks to congratulate skater Renate Groenewold on her victory.
VANCOUVER—Dutch skater Renate Groenewold has won gold in the women's 3000 metres at the World Single Distances Skating Championships in Vancouver.
In a fine dress rehearsal for the Winter Olympics on the same track in 11 months time, the 32-year-old Dutch woman came in 0.7 seconds ahead of her Czech rival Martina Sablikova, with a time of 4:05:43.
Another Dutch skater, Jorien Voorhuis missed the bronze by four seconds. It was Canadian Kristina Groves who took third place.
The times were nothing spectacular for a world title. "It was heavy going," said Groenewold, "But I was the fastest on this ice."
Groenewold is the first Dutch skater to win a World Championship gold at this distance. She took the silver in 2007, following in the footsteps of Tonny de Jong in 1999 and Gretha Smit in 2004.
A skating gold is no minor matter in the Netherlands, and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende broke off from crucial talks on the economic crisis to offer Groenewold his congratulations
"I feel honoured," she said, "after all, it's cool to have the Prime Minister on the telephone."
As she draws towards the end of her skating career, Groenewold is putting all her efforts into the three-kilometre race, and is determined to take the Olympic gold next year. She won the silver in 2002 and 2006.