February 16, 1998
Timmer wins 1,500m speed skate in new world record
Dutch speed skater Marianne Timmer captured her country's third gold medal of the Nagano Olympics with a new world record in the women's 1,500 meters Monday.
Timmer, a sprint specialist, hung up a phenomenal time of 1 minute, 57.58 seconds at the M-Wave Olympic indoor oval to slash 0.29 second off the old mark set by Canada's Catriona LeMay Doan in Calgary last November.
Timmer's effort ended a 10-year gold medal drought for the Dutch women in speed skating since Yvonne van Gennip last took three titles at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. It also denied Germany's Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann her second gold of the Games.
Niemann-Stirnemann, skating alone in the final pairing, still smiled after winning the silver with a distant 1:58.66 for her seventh career Olympic medal. The bronze went to American Chris Witty in 1:58.97.
LeMay Doan, winner of the women's 500-meter event, finished a mediocre 13th in 2:02.19.
After the race, Timmer got a bear hug from Dutch sprint team coach Peter Mueller, the mentor of American Olympic greats Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen, and together they collapsed to the ice in joy.
Six more pairs of skaters followed her, and one by one they fell short of her time. When Niemann-Stirnemann, winner of last week's 3,000-meter title, crossed the line with a slower time, Timmer got a
big hug and kiss from Canadian Kevin Overland, the men's 500-meter bronze medalist.
''Marianne finished in a dream time and I knew then that I would have to be very fast...but second place is quite all right and I am very content with it,'' Niemann-Stirnemann said.
Niemann-Stirnemann, a four-time Olympian, found the gold medal in this distance outside her grasp once again. She won the silver at the 1992 Albertville Olympics and the bronze two years later in Lillehammer.
But another medal in the 5,000 meters later in the week would tie her with former East German Karin Enke-Kania for the most Olympic medals ever won by a woman speed skater.
Perhaps due to the revolutionary slap skates, nicknamed ''clappers'' for the sound they make on the ice, the boundaries between the sprint and distance events are starting to blur.
Dutchman Ids Postma is known for his prowess in the 1,500 -- a middle distance event -- but he knocked off the world's best sprinters to take the men's 1,000-meter gold on Sunday.
There was more shaking of the heads Monday. Timmer burst onto the scene by winning the 1,000 in last year's single distance world championships while Witty, a former world sprint champion, shocked the field and herself with the bronze.
''I felt really good in the last lap. This gives me a lot of hope for the women's 1,000 meters,'' said an ecstatic Witty, a recent convert to the clappers.
Gianni Romme is the only non-surprise gold medalist here from the Netherlands, winning the men's 5,000 in world record time.
Speed skaters have praised the fast ice of the M-Wave for the past two weeks and have decorated the rink with world records in the men's 1,500 and 5,000 meters as well as in Monday's race.
The Olympic record has also been smashed in all seven races held so far.
Japan's Chiharu Nozaki skated 2:02.78 for 15th place, one slot ahead of Japanese teammate Aki Tonoike who clocked 2:02.84. Mie Uehara was 21st. (Kyodo News)
Results of speed skating women's 1,500 meters Monday in the 18th Olympic Winter Games at M-Wave indoor oval, Nagano:
1. Marianne Timmer, Netherlands 1 minute, 57.58 seconds (World record)
2. Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, Germany 1:58.66
3. Christine Witty, U.S. 1:58.97
4. Emese Hunyady, Austria 1:59.19
5. Anna Friesinger, Germany 1:59.20
6. Annamarie Thomas, Netherlands 1:59.29
7. Claudia Pechstein, Germany 1:59.46
8. Jennifer Rodriguez, U.S. 2:00.97
9. Svetlana Bazhanova, Russia 2:01.54
10. Natalya Polozkova, Russia 2:01.56
11. Lyudmila Prokasheva, Kazakstan 2:01.65
15. Chiharu Nozaki, Japan 2:02.78
16. Aki Tonoike, Japan 2:02.84
21. Mie Uehara, Japan 2:03.37
23. Shiho Kusunose, Japan 2:04.38
25. Bak Eun Bi, South Korea 2:05.23
26. Lee Kyung Nam, South Korea 2:05.59
28. Song Li, China 2:05.98
31. Li Xuesong, China 2:08.05
No part of the article, photographs, or illustrations presented here may be printed or used without permission.
Copyright 1998 The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun