Japan's Miho Takagi claimed her first gold of the Beijing Olympics, gliding to victory in Thursday's 1,000-meter women's speedskating event as the United States' Brittany Bowe finished with bronze.
Takagi, 27, had already collected three silver medals at the Winter Games before winning her first career individual gold with a time of 1:13.19 in the 13th pairing.
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Netherlands' Jutta Leerdam finished second while Bowe, the reigning world champion, came in third to earn her first individual Olympic medal.
Bowe, 33, skated in the final pairing of 15, recording a time of 1:14.61.
She is the first American to win a medal in the women's 1,000-meter at the Olympics since Chris Witty's performance in 2002.
Bowe said she had hoped to take home gold, but was proud of her performance.
“I got off to a great start, really strong and fast, but my lap speed just hasn’t been there,” she said. “I was going for gold, but ... I’m proud of the performance.”
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Takagi and Bowe had each opened with a split time of 17.60.
In the end, Takagi's final 400m lap was stronger at 28.71, as Leerdam’s was 29.36 seconds and Bowe’s 29.69.
She is now the first Japanese skater to win the women’s 1,000-meter gold medal.
“I wasn’t thinking too deeply about what my time would be,” Takagi said of her victory. “For me, it’s the same as a 500-meter. I was most focused on getting the start right.”
For the Netherlands' Ireen Wuest, the event was her final Olympic race, with the athlete placing sixth. She will end her Olympic career with 13 medals, the most in speedskating history.
“I hoped for a spectacular last race, but it wasn’t,” Wuest said. “But overall, I’m looking at a great Olympics. I’ve only got one race (World Cup) left now, in Heerenveen (Netherlands), and after that, retirement.”
Kimi Goetz, the second American in the competition, paired up with Leerdam, recording a 1:15.40 time. The 27-year-old placed seventh in what was the final race of her first Olympics.
The next speedskating event will be on Friday, with the men's 1,000-meter race.