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Sochi 2014

Ireen Wüst takes gold at 3rd straight Winter Olympics

Sunday, February 9, 2014
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Pavel Golovkin, APIreen Wust of the Netherlands flashes three fingers indicating her third Olympic gold medal, during the flower ceremony after winning gold in the women's 3,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

Pavel Golovkin, AP
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands flashes three fingers indicating her third Olympic gold medal, during the flower ceremony after winning gold in the women’s 3,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

SOCHI, Russia — Ireen Wüst held up three fingers.

One nail was painted red. The others were white and blue.

Gold would’ve worked, too.

Wüst, one of only seven openly LGBT Olympic athletes competing in Sochi, claimed a speedskating gold medal at her third straight Winter Olympics, knocking off defending champion Martina Sablikova in the 3,000 meters Sunday. That made the Netherlands 2-for-2 at Adler Arena, the world’s dominant speedskating nation living up to his billing through the first weekend in Sochi.

“Seventeen million Dutch wanted me to win,” said Wüst, who painted her nails in the colors of the Dutch flag. “Now the extreme pressure is off, and I can win more.”

Skating in the next-to-last pairing on sea-level ice that wore down some other top contenders, including Germany’s Claudia Pechstein, the winner looked strong all the way through. She won with a time of 4 minutes, 0.34 seconds, easily beating the number Sablikova had just put up in the previous pairing.

“The relief is immense,” Wüst said, “and the satisfaction even greater.”

The 27-year-old Wüst kept holding up three fingers, which was only appropriate. She has been on top at three straight Olympics, claiming the 3,000 at the 2006 Turin Games and the 1,500 at Vancouver in 2010.

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Wüst came to Sochi as the skater to beat after winning the European all-round title last month. She lived up to the billing, becoming the most decorated Dutch female Winter Olympian with three golds and a silver.

“It’s three in a row,” Wüst said, “and I want to become even more unique.”

Her celebration was certainly one-of-a-kind. Wüst went sliding on her rear toward the barrier lining the outside lane — the only time she went down all day.

The other two medalists also whooped it up. Sablikova, who won gold in both the 3,000 and 5,000 at the Vancouver Games, didn’t seem to mind giving back one of her titles.

“Wüst was simply very fast today and nobody could fight her,” Sablikova said.

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