Nils van der Poel breaks 10000m world record on final day of Worlds 

Rejuvenated Swede won his second title in Heerenveen to end the World Single Distances Championships in style, as the Netherlands took their tally to seven golds.

By Rory Jiwani
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Nils van der Poel ended the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen with a bang on Sunday (14 February).

Just two months after making his comeback to the sport, the Swede set a new world record in the 10000m to add to the 5000m title he won on Thursday.

Dutch athletes completed a great week on home ice with two golds on the final day.

Having being left crestfallen by his disqualification from Saturday's 1000m, Thomas Krol made amends by leading a home 1-2-3 in the 1500m.

Irene Schouten became the first Dutch world champion in the women's 5000m, claiming her fourth medal of the event and her second title.

And there was an upset in the women's 1500m as Ragne Wiklund beat 1000m champion Brittany Bowe for gold and Norway's first medal of the week.

Hosts Netherlands finished atop the medal table with seven golds, six silver and five bronze with the United States second on two golds and a silver followed by Sweden on two golds, both won by van der Poel.

The Russian Skating Union (RSU) was the only team other than the Dutch to reach double figures in terms of medals, claiming one gold, three silver and seven bronze to leave them in fourth place.

Van der Poel's dream comeback

It was certainly a case of saving the best until last as Niels van der Poel completed the 5000m-10000m double in spectacular fashion.

The Swede took an extended break from the sport months after competing at PyeongChang 2018, and made a winning return to action in Germany in December.

Having clocked the sixth-fastest 10000m leg of all-time at last month's European all-around Championships, the 24-year-old set a new Swedish record to win the world 5000m title.

And in the final event of the week, van der Poel took 0.91s off Graeme Fish's world record set at last year's Worlds in Salt Lake City with a time of 12:32.95.

Canadian Fish opted not to travel to defend his title, joining big names from Korea and Japan on the sidelines due to COVID concerns.

The Netherlands' Sochi 2014 gold medallist Jorrit Bergsma was 12.91s behind in second with RSU's Alexander Rumyantsev taking bronze in a new personal best.

Wiklund denies Bowe double

There was a shock in the opening final of the day, the women's 1500m, as Ragne Wiklund smashed her personal best to take gold.

Skating in Heat 7 out of 12, the Norwegian clocked 1:54.61, more than eight-tenths quicker than her previous best set last month in the same arena.

No one could eclipse her time with yesterday's 1000m champion Brittany Bowe 0.42s behind in second.

American Bowe just missed out on a repeat of her 1000m-1500m double the last time the event was held in Heerenveen's Thialf Arena.

Evgeniia Lalenkova (+0.48s) of the RSU took bronze with reigning Olympic champion Ireen Wüst only fifth behind Dutch team-mate and newly-crowned world 3000m champion Antoinette de Jong.

Wiklund became the first Norwegian woman to win an individual title at the World Single Distances Championships.

Redemption for Krol

What a difference a day made for Thomas Krol as he took gold in the 1500m.

Last month's European champion was disqualified from Saturday's 1000m for two false starts, but made no mistake skating in the 12th and final heat.

He took victory in 1:43.75, beating reigning Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis by 0.36s with PyeongChang runner-up Patrick Roest (+1.74s) earning his third medal of the week and completing a Dutch podium sweep.

Sergey Trofimov was fourth ahead of Saturday's mass start gold medallist Joey Mantia.

Krol later told ISU, "Yesterday was a nightmare from which I wanted to wake up as quickly as possible. I can only blame myself, but I knew I would have another super chance today."

Schouten takes 5000m as Voronina wilts

Irene Schouten claimed her first individual gold of the week in the 5000m.

A member of the victorious Dutch team pursuit squad, and winner of bronze in the mass start and 3000m, the 28-year-old set a personal best of 6:48.53 which would not be beaten.

PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist and reigning world champion Natalia Voronina, who dethroned the great Martina Sablikova in Salt Lake City 12 months ago, was over four seconds ahead of Schouten with four laps to go.

But the Russian world record holder had gone out too quickly and faded badly in the final 1.5km, finishing 2.46 seconds adrift to take silver.

Olympic 3000m champion Carlijn Achtereekte (+3.68s) took bronze ahead of Canada's Isabelle Weidemann and double Olympic champion Sablikova who takes a 3000m silver back to the Czech Republic.

Claudia Pechstein, who won her first of five Olympic gold medals at Lillehammer 1994 and turns 49 later this month, finished in 10th place out of the 12 finalists.