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Japan women shatter Olympic record, conquer defending champion Netherlands in team pursuit final

Kyodo

Japan’s women captured the team pursuit gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics, beating the defending champion Netherlands on Wednesday.

The world record-holding trio of sisters Miho and Nana Takagi and Ayano Sato defeated the Dutch in the gold medal race, winning in an Olympic-record 2 minutes, 53.89 seconds at Gangneung Oval. The same Dutch trio of Marrit Leenstra, Ireen Wust and Antoinette de Jong had raced to the previous Olympic-record 2:55.61 in qualifying on Monday.

The Dutch finished in 2:55.48 in the final to earn silver.

The gold medal was Japan’s third at the Pyeongchang Games after triumphs in men’s figure skating by Yuzuru Hanyu and women’s 500-meter speed skating by Nao Kodaira. Miho Takagi’s gold was her third medal at these games, having won silver in the 1,500 meters and bronze in the 1,000.

“I was able to skate this way because of these teammates and because we were in this Olympic tournament,” said Miho Takagi, who had been a gold-medal favorite in the 1,500. “As an individual, I lacked the strength to win the 1,500, but as a team, we could do it.”

The United States defeated Canada in the B final to secure the bronze medal.

Ayaka Kikuchi and the Takagi sisters had sent Japan into the gold medal race with a win over Canada in their semifinal with a time of 2:58.94.

“It wasn’t just the four of us who skated here today, but all five members of our team who have come together this season,” said Nana Takagi, the older of the two sisters. “It’s not even just us, but the support of the entire Japanese national team that made this possible.”

In the men’s final, host South Korea had to settle for silver, finishing 1.20 seconds back of Norway’s gold medal-winning team. The Dutch captured the bronze medal, defeating New Zealand in the B final.

In the race for fifth place, Japan took fifth after Italy was disqualified.