The Netherlands were emotional winners of the women's short track speed skating 3000m relay at the Winter Olympics, as Suzanne Schulting won her second gold of the Games in Beijing.
Schulting, Selma Poutsma, Xandra Velzeboer and Yara van Kerkhof guided the team to the title ahead of defending champions South Korea and China in a dramatic and thrilling race.
It was a poignant race for the Dutch team, who were racing in their first Olympic final since the death of team-mate Lara van Ruijven, who died from complications caused by an autoimmune disorder in 2020. Van Ruijven, a world champion over 500m, was part of the team which claimed bronze at Pyeongchang 2018.
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"Lara is very close to our hearts," said Schulting. "And we are very proud to have won the Olympic championship."
'An amazing display' - Netherlands celebrate gold in women's 3000m relay
Schulting and van Kerkhof made up half of that line-up and Poutsma made a strong start with the Koreans hot on their heels. But with 20 laps to go, it was the Chinese who were challenging the Dutch, roared on by a limited home crowd.
With 10 laps to go, it was the Netherlands leading ahead of China and Korea but there was barely anything in it. The Chinese immediately undertook Velzeboer, who responded impressively to retake the lead and then Schulting really put the hammer down to increase their advantage.
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But China would not go away and with three laps to go, Velzeboer sensed the pressure and surged further ahead, before Schulting brought the team home for gold ahead of South Korea and China, who lost their silver medal position in the final laps. Schulting once again celebrated vociferously, punching their air with delight, just as she did when she successfully defended her 1000m title
"It was for Lara, our team mate," said Van Kerkhof.
"Of course we miss her every day but she gives us strength and it's also thanks to her that we're here. She's in our mind and in our hearts. We feel her presence and strength."
'Fantastic display' - Schulting and Netherlands win 3000m relay gold
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