Mon, 04 Dec 2023

BEIJING, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Three-time Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis sailed to the men's 1,500m victory while China pulled off three medals on the opening day of the Speed Skating World Cup here on Friday.

Dutchman Nuis, 34, returned to Beijing by triumphing in the 1,500m again, in one minute 44.80 seconds, after his successful defense of the 1,500m title at the Beijing Olympic Winter Games in 2022.

His compatriot Patrick Roest was 0.56 seconds off the pace to bag a silver while former World Cup winner Ning Zhongyan of China was third in 1:45.51.

"When I first competed in the 'Ice Ribbon (the National Speed Skating Oval)' last year, I was quite nervous. But tonight the feeling was totally different; I was relaxed, enjoying my race, the ice rink and the atmosphere," said Ning, who placed fifth at the Beijing Games, short of a podium finish but already creating the best result for the Chinese men's speed skaters in the 1,000m.

Ning also praised the eventual winner Nuis.

"He was such a great skater. I went all out to catch up with him. Competing with him boosted my morale," Ning said.

In the women's 1,500m, Chinese skater Han Mei, 25, clinched a silver medal in 1:55.929, following Japan's Miho Takagi who clocked a winning time of 1:55.52.

Han's teammate Li Qishi, who had come down with a fever in the morning, took bronze in 1:57.01.

25-year-old Han said she focuses on gaining experience at the World Cup series rather than just medals.

"I did not set specific goals for the World Cups which offer fine-tuning opportunities for me after a training cycle," she said.

"My ultimate goal is to stand on the podium at the 2026 Winter Olympics," Han added.

In the men's 500m race, Japan's Wataru Morishige and Yuma Murakami had a one-two finish ahead of South Korean Kim Jun-ho.

The women's 500m race saw Americans Erin Jackson and Kimi Goetz take gold and silver respectively, while Kim Min-sun of South Korea came in third.

The World Cup in Beijing is the second of the World Series this season, slated for Nov. 17-19. The next event will be held in Stavanger, Norway starting on December 1.

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