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Winter Olympics: Belgium end 74-year wait for gold, fifth medal in Beijing for Bolshunov

By Sports Desk February 19, 2022 1145

Belgium have long lived in the Winter Olympics shadows of their geographical neighbours, but Bart Swings ensured there was plenty to celebrate on Saturday.

France, Germany and Netherlands have historically, and recently, enjoyed plenty of podium success at the Games, but it has been in seriously short supply in the case of the Belgians.

In fact, until this weekend they had not held a Winter Olympics gold medal since Micheline Lannoy and Pierre Baugniet won the figure skating mixed pairs at the 1948 Games in St Moritz.

Swings took glory in speed skating's men's mass start event, an improvement on his silver medal from Pyeongchang four years ago as the 31-year-old backed up his top-ranked World Cup form of the past three seasons.

South Koreans Chung Jae Won and Lee Seung Hoon took silver and bronze, while last place went to Dutch great Sven Kramer, a nine-time Olympic medallist, who won four golds in his storied career and was making his final appearance at the Games.

Swings said after winning the 100th gold medal of Beijing 2022: "That silver medal in Pyeongchang was already incredible because I think it was about 20 years ago since we had won a medal.

"Now a gold medal following up on that silver is historical. It's unbelievable. I'm looking forward to getting home with my family and friends. I haven't seen them in a long time because of COVID-19. It's going to be amazing to see them and show them the gold medal."

Here, Stats Perform picks out some other standout numbers from Saturday's action in Beijing.

3 - Irene Schouten became just the second woman to win three gold medals in speed skating in a single Winter Olympics, as she won the women's mass start, adding that to her 3,000m and 5,000m victories. It meant she matched the three-gold feat of fellow Dutchwoman Yvonne van Gennip from the 1988 Calgary Games. Germany's Claudia Pechstein finished ninth in Saturday's race at the age of 49, signing off a 30-year Olympic career that saw her win five gold medals and nine medals in all.

4-3-2-1 - Niklas Edin is the poster boy for patience, finally getting his hands on gold with the Sweden men's curling team. The skip featured as the Swedes finished fourth in 2010, third in 2014, second in 2018, and the 5-4 win over Great Britain means Edin has finally led the team to first place. It makes him the first Olympian to go on a run of 4-3-2-1 finishes in the same event, and means Sweden are men's curling team champions for the first time.

7 - Russian Olympic Committee's Alexander Bolshunov struck gold in the cross-country mass start, which was shortened from 50km to 30km due to extreme weather conditions. It gave him a fifth medal and third gold of Beijing 2022, after previous triumphs in the skiathlon and men's relay. That also made him the seventh cross-country skier to win five medals in any single edition of the Olympics, and the first man. Bolshunov now has nine medals in his Olympic career, finishing on the podium every time he has competed.

20 - New Zealand's Nico Porteous is just 20 years and 88 days old, and this is his second Winter Olympics. He landed a bronze four years ago and became the youngest gold medallist in men's freeski halfpipe with a spectacular performance on Saturday, nailing his routine to deliver a third medal for his country at these Games. It is the first time New Zealand have won three medals in a Winter Olympics, with snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott having landed the first two.

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Last modified on Saturday, 19 February 2022 13:21

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