Van der Poel and De Jong seal maiden world titles at start of 2021 World Speed Skating Championships

An emotional day one of the event saw a major upset, and two new world champions crowned in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Nils van der Poel and Antoinette de Jong won maiden world titles on day one (Thursday, 11 February) of the 2021 ISU World Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

The host country is currently experiencing a high-pressure weather system with plenty of snow, meaning records are unlikely.

However, there was still plenty of excitement on the track.

Local hero Patrick Roest was the heavy pre-race favourite in the men's 5,000m, but Sweden's Van der Poel scorched round in a personal best time of 6:08.39 to seal the gold medal.

A visibly distraught Roest had to settle for silver, while Russia's Sergey Trofimov took home bronze.

Earlier, Netherlands skater De Jong won the opening gold medal of ‘Endurance Thursday’ in the Ladies’ 3000m.

It was an emotional first world title for the 25-year-old, who finished in 3:58:47.

Czech three-time Olympic champ Martina Sablikova sealed silver, while another Dutchwoman in Irene Schouten won bronze.

The event, which is taking place in a bubble environment due to COVID-19 pandemic, runs through to Sunday 14 February, and there are 12 more titles up for grabs.