The Mistake That Cost Sven Kramer Olympic Gold | Strangest Moments


There aren’t many rules
to Olympic speed-skating. Get around the rink as quickly
as possible. That’s the gist. The fastest man or woman wins. But there’s one rule
you have to remember – there are only two lanes
on the speed-skating track and you have to skate
one lap in one lane and then the next lap
in the other. It’s simple, really. Alternate. This lane, then that lane,
then this lane, then that lane. Lap after lap. The whole sport is about rhythm. Dutchman Sven Kramer didn’t need
telling the rules or rhythms of speed skating. By the time of the 10,000m race
in Vancouver in 2010, Kramer hadn’t lost in four years. Sven Kramer! He’d won 18 consecutive
10,000m races and had a gold medal already from the 5,000m,
won the previous week. But on a fateful
February day in Canada, Kramer forgot his rhythm. JUDGE: Ready. Kramer was an
overwhelming favourite in Vancouver. He was last on the track,
from eight pairs of racers. Kramer was expected to destroy
his Russian partner Ivan Skobrev and to drift comfortably inside
the time of Korea’s Lee Seung-hoon, as well. For 16 laps everything was perfect. Skobrev was a dot in the mirrors.
Kramer was keeping bang on track. His rhythm was metronomic
and his style exquisite. Counting down the laps,
he had everything right. This lane, then that lane. Then 16 laps to go, then 15. 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8. Whoa! What’s happened here, Sven?! Rewind. Speed skaters have a close
relationship with their coaches. The men and women in the tracksuits
stand by the side of the ice, to offer
encouragement and direction. They also tell the skaters if they
should be in this lane or that. Kramer’s coach Gerard Kemkers had
done all of the above for 16 laps. But then,
he had a moment of madness. As Kramer approached the changeover,
after 6,600m of plain sailing, Kemkers shouted at Kramer
to go to the inside lane. But Sven was sure
he should be heading out. The 23-year-old Kramer yielded to his older
and more experienced coach. But crucially, his own
instincts had been right and his coach’s were wrong. Clean-living Sven Kramer was now
on the wrong side of the tracks. Kemkers knew it almost instantly, but was powerless
to go back in time. The South Koreans knew it, too. Watching from the middle
of the track, they knew Kramer was going to be disqualified. The only man who didn’t know it
was the man in the polished black and orange skating suit,
who thought he was heading for a gold medal. He flew over the line,
smashing the Olympic record, but now Kemkers had to come clean. Kramer learnt that he had lost
the Olympic gold from the man who had caused the calamity. And he was not happy. Not happy at all. You’d think a calamity on this scale
would mean the end of the road for an athlete and their coach. Kemkers had let Kramer down
in the most public way imaginable, on the biggest possible stage. But Sven dug deep
and forgave his coach. Despite some obvious tensions,
the duo stayed together. And Sven was rewarded for
his patience four years later, at the Sochi Winter Games,
when he won two gold medals under the guidance of Kemkers. All’s well that ends well? Hmm, not quite. Just five weeks after Sochi,
Kramer dumped his coach. As they say, it’s easier
to forgive than to forget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *