Miho Takagi wins women’s 1,000 in record time to collect fourth medal of Beijing Olympics

After collecting three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics, Miho Takagi finally snagged a gold when she won the women’s 1,000-meter event on Thursday.

Fresh off a heartbreaking team pursuit silver, Takagi set an Olympic record with a time of 1 minute, 13.19 seconds to beat Jutta Leerdam of the Netherlands by 0.64. Brittany Bowe of the United States won bronze.

This is Takagi’s seventh career Olympic medal, four more than any other Japanese athlete, and her second gold to equal the most won by an athlete from her nation.

“There were so many frustrations right from the start of these Olympics, and I was unable to achieve peak performance in the 3,000 and 1,500,” Takagi said.

“In the midst of that really brutal struggle, I was able to make use of every ounce of my ability, so in the end, this was a race about which I had no regrets, regardless of whether I won the gold medal or not.”

Takagi held her fist to the sky as she crossed the line at the National Speed Skating Oval in the Chinese capital. She made excellent ground on her final trip down the back straight in the slip-stream of Russian Angelina Golikova to put her in a gold medal-winning position.

Her time slashed 0.37 off the previous Olympic record set by Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands in Pyeongchang four years ago.

After entering the Beijing Games as a gold medal favorite in the 1,500 and team pursuit, the 1,000 was Takagi’s last chance at gold.

She was beaten in the 1,500 by Dutchwoman Ireen Wust and then had gold snatched from her in the team pursuit when her sister Nana fell in the last corner of the race with the team leading Canada.

“When I did get the gold medal, it was like my joy was doubled,” said Takagi, who also won silver in the 500.

“Honestly, I think my body is at its limit, not fatigue so much, but I’ve developed a cough, so I think physically I’m borderline and am really thankful I could get through this without any serious issues.”

Nao Kodaira, the other Japanese national in the event and the defending Olympic silver medalist over the distance, could only finish in 10th, 2.46 off the pace of her compatriot.

Kodaira had a disastrous 500 event when a stumble in the first few strides of her race cost her dearly. She was looking for redemption over the longer distance on Thursday but it was not to be.

“I didn’t make any big mistakes the way I did in the 500,” Kodaira reflected.

“From the start of the new year, I was on the verge of giving up, not knowing if I’d even be fit in time. But in the end, I was able to make it, although I wasn’t able to deliver.”

“I was, however, able to overcome the aches and pains, and for that I am filled with gratitude for everyone who helped me make it here.”

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