Gianni's Gold: Romme Sets Another World Record
By Doug Ferguson
Tuesday, February 17, 1998; 4:29 a.m. EST
NAGANO, Japan Men's speedskating ended the way it started Gianni Romme with another Olympic gold medal after smashing another world record.
In a display of relentless power, Romme took 15 seconds off Johann Olav Koss' world mark in the 10,000 meters Tuesday to lead a Dutch sweep at the M-Wave.
Romme finished in 13 minutes, 15:33 seconds, making him the first speedskater at the Nagano Games to win two gold medals. Bob de Jong won the silver in 13:25.76.
Rintje Ritsma finished in 13:28.19 to nose out Belgian Bart Veldkamp in the final heat and secure the bronze for the Dutch, giving them their most successful Olympics ever in speedskating.
It was the second speedskating medals sweep of the games. Germany's Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, Claudia Pechstein and Ann Friesinger finished 1-2-3 in the women's 3,000 last week.
It also was the first sweep in a men's race since 1964, when Norway's Knut Johannesen, Per Ivar Moe and Fred Anton Maier took gold, silver and bronze in the 5,000.
Veldkamp, who won the gold at Albertville and the bronze at Lillehammer in the 10,000, finished in 13:29.69. Even that would have been enough to break Koss' mark of 13:30.55 in the raucous Viking Ship four years ago.
At a more subdued M-Wave, it wasn't even enough to win a medal.
The question was not whether Romme would win the gold or if he would break Koss' world record, but by how much.
Koss, looking on as an analyst for an Australian television, watched all three of his world records beaten at the M-Wave. He had predicted Romme would shatter his mark.
"I think he'll take 30 seconds off,'' Koss said an hour before the event got under way. "I think he can go around 13 [minutes] if he goes for it the whole way.''
With every trip around the oval, the crowd gasped when Romme's time was flashed on the digital scoreboard.
Koss skated 24 consecutive laps under 33 seconds when he won in Lillehammer. Romme didn't go over 32 seconds until the 18th lap, and other than the first of the 25 laps, he never went slower than 32.58 seconds.
The record came nine days after Romme became the third and final skater to set the world record in the 5,000 in a spectacular start to speedskating.
Romme was a staggering 6 seconds better than everyone else in that race, and this one was no different.
He raised both arms when he crossed the line and kept them raised for another 200 meters, soaking in his moment as one of the Netherlands' greatest performers in one of its most popular sports.
By contrast, Ritsma slumped on a bench shortly after he finished, utterly exhausted by his 25 laps in a hotly contested heat with Veldkamp, the former Dutchman who changed his citizenship to Belgium for the Nagano Games.
The sweep in the 10,000 brings the Dutch total in speedskating to 10 medals four golds through eight races. This comes just four years after winning just four medals none gold. It breaks the previous best of nine medals at the 1972 games in Sapporo.
Koss smiled from his perch in the broadcast booth, the last of his three world records gone by Adne Sondral of Norway in the 1,500, and Romme in the two distance races.
Ritsma, regarded as the best all-around skater in the world, won his third medal in Nagano but still lacks a gold. He also won the bronze in the 1,500 and the silver in the 5,000.
KC Boutiette finished his second Winter Olympics in style. Going off in the first of eight heats, he knocked nearly 25 seconds off his previous best and set the American record of 13:44.03, good enough for eighth place.
Boutiette set three American records at the Nagano Games the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 and established personal bests in all four of his races.
"Man, this is unbelievable,'' Boutiette said. "I felt great out there. A big advantage for me is when I go first, and I'm not under pressure to beat another person, I'm just trying to beat myself.''
David Tamburrino of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., shaved a half-second off his personal best but still wound up last at 14:12.0
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
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