CALGARY, Alberta – Tomomi Okazaki claimed her first victory in five seasons on the speedskating World Cup circuit Saturday, leading a Japanese 1-2 finish with Yukari Watanabe in a Japanese record time in the women’s 500 meters.
Okazaki clocked 37.73 seconds on the Olympic Oval in Calgary to break her own national mark by 0.04. Watanabe finished 0.14 behind Okazaki and Anzhelika Kotyuga of Belarus came third in 37.95.
“I got a confidence boost at last month’s national sprint championships and I’ve been quite sure since then that I can win when I’m able to skate according to my race plans,” Okazaki said.
The 33-year-old veteran, the 500-meter bronze medal winner at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, set her previous national record of 37.77 when she finished sixth at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
In the men’s 500, Japan’s Yuya Oikawa finished runnerup in 34.83 seconds and compatriot Joji Kato took third in 34.89. Joey Cheek of the United States won with a time of 34.81.
World record holder Hiroyasu Shimizu was 11th in 35.29.
In the men’s 1,000, Masaaki Kobayashi took second behind Dutchman Erben Wennemars.
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