VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Sven Kramer, the overwhelming favorite to win the men’s 10,000 meters, threw down his glasses in fury after a lane violation Tuesday cost him his second gold medal at the Vancouver Games.
Kramer’s disqualification for a violation with eight laps remaining in the race handed Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea the gold medal at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
When the Dutch skater crossed the finish line he appeared to have won the race, but when informed by his coach that there may be some doubt about the results he flung his glasses and kicked at lane markers before sitting despondent on a bench with his head down and elbows on his knees.
“I am furious,” Kramer told reporters about the gaffe, where a mistake by his confused coach caused him to change lanes at the wrong time.
“In a split second I had to take a decision and I took it. I can not explain it. At the end of the day it is the skater who is on the ice. Maybe we have to say we got it wrong.
“This has never happened to me before.”
Kramer’s coach, Gerard Kemkers, was devastated.
“It was my mistake, my responsibility,” said Kemkers, who has coached the world champion and world record holder since he left the juniors five years ago.
“It is a disaster. My world has collapsed.
“It is the worst thing that has happened in my life.
Lee, who took silver behind Kramer in the men’s 5,000 meters, slashed more than 22 seconds off his personal best to win in 12 minutes 58.55 seconds. He finished more than four seconds behind Kramer.
Ivan Skobrev of Russia took the silver medal in 13:02.07, while Bob de Jong of the Netherlands, the 2006 champion, claimed bronze in 13:06.73.
Lee took a Korean flag after hearing of the disqualification and skated around the oval with it across his shoulders as the Dutch team and coaches fell silent in disbelief.
In the stands, Kramer’s father, twice Olympic speedskater Yep Kramer, looked on forlornly.
It was the second huge Olympic blunder for Kramer, the three-time world champion at the distance.
At the 2006 Turin Games, Kramer fell after stepping on a lane marker during the team pursuit semi-finals, ruining Dutch chances for a gold. They ended up taking the bronze.
Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Frank Pingue