Speed skating has a new Olympic queen. Irene Schouten dominated the two longest tracks in Beijing and replaced legends, Claudia Pechstein and Martina Sáblíková. She predicts that the 29-year-old Dutchman will finish four gold medals at this year’s games.
Beijing (from our newsletter) – “Nenenenen, don’t ask for me,” Martina Sáblíková shakes her head. Champion Irene Schouten just walked past her with a triumphant smile on her face.
A few minutes ago, she became a two-time Olympic winner. And he doesn’t have enough.
The Czech Republic will look back at her just as she is answering hypothetical questions about another possible Beijing start.
Sáblíková is a substitute for Nikola Zdráhalová in the final speed skating competition of the Olympics, a race with a mass start at 1500 meters, which is on the program next Saturday in the beautiful Ice Ribbon Hall.
Her compatriot and friend are plagued by a significant performance and mental crisis in Beijing, so it is worth asking whether coach Petr Novák’s team is not considering a surprising rosada.
“Really not. Should I go against her again?” Sáblíková nods her head towards the Dutch and makes it clear that such a scenario is out of the question.
“He wants four gold here. And I think he will have them,” he adds.
She knew about Schouten’s superform before the Olympics. She did not want to name, but before two races at the longest distances she repeated that the favorite is absolutely clear.
“No one will have it on her,” she predicted.
The Netherlands met expectations. She dominated the three with a time of 3: 56.93 and broke the twenty-year-old Olympic record of the German Claudia Pechstein. It was similar at five. Time? 6: 43.51. She couldn’t even stand the Olympic high that Pechstein drove in 2002 in Salt Lake City.
In both cases, Sáblíková was one of the first congratulators. She wants to stay in Beijing until the end, but only as a national substitute.
Sáblíková congratulates Schouten after the 5-kilometer race. | Photo: Reuters
“Niky has already offered me if I don’t want to go instead of her. But I would say that she didn’t mean it. She rather wanted to poke me. I said if she didn’t go crazy when I didn’t drive for about five years,” Sáblíková refused.
At the 24th Winter Games, the seven-time Olympic medalist will probably not add another start. But what about four years in Milan, Italy? This is a big unknown.
Sáblíková will be thirty-eight years old in 2026, but according to coach Novák, he can maintain top performance.
“She’s not going worse. She’s still going the same or better. Now she’s focused on Beijing to take the seventh medal, and she’s succeeded. If she’s done, it’s up to her. But I don’t think so. he has a lot ahead of him, “is an convinced experienced coach.
The story of the Czech speed skater, who would get a stylistic point by participating in the sixth Winter Olympics, is also discussed by foreign media.
“If she leaves, she will do so after winning seven medals in eleven Olympic races, three times she was fourth. In every race in which Sáblíková appeared, she was a threat,” writes NBC News.
Sáblíková wants to decide on her future in the summer. “The last Olympics? I don’t have a plan yet. The Olympics is an Olympics who would like to end,” he admits. The game also includes participation in the Summer Games, which will take place in Paris in two years.
“I really enjoy the bike. When I ride my bike, I’m doing well and I’m enjoying it, you would want everything right away. But that’s not how it works,” said one of the most successful Olympians in national history.