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Nao Kodaira zooms to 20th consecutive victory at 500 meters

Kyodo

Nao Kodaira continued her imperious form over 500 meters with her 15th career World Cup victory, and 20th straight overall, at the distance on Saturday.

Kodaira finished first in 37.07 seconds, while Russia’s Angelina Golikova was second, 0.78 second back, and two-time defending Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea (37.95) was third.

“My body wasn’t moving at the start, but I made up for it in the second half,” Kodaira said. “I’ve been able to show the results of my summer practice. I have a feeling I’ll keep improving.”

It was Kodaira’s 12th straight 500 victory on the World Cup circuit. On Friday, she won both the 500- and 1,000-meter races.

Miho Takagi won the women’s 1,500 in 1 minute, 55.30 seconds, while Ayaka Kikuchi finished fifth. American Heather Bergsma (1:56:48) finished second and the Netherlands’ Lotte van Beek (1:57:51) was third.

“I was tired,” Takagi said. “There was a point when it wasn’t going well and I just barely won. I don’t have the feeling like ‘I did it!’ even though I took first.”

In the men’s 500 meters, Daichi Yamanaka narrowly missed out on a victory, finishing runner-up 0.03 behind the Netherlands’ Ronald Mulder, who finished in 34.62. The Netherlands’ Hein Otterspeer (34.76) was third.