Speed skating-Champions Canada feel sympathy as Japan fall short

2 minute read

2022 Beijing Olympics - Speed Skating - Women's Team Pursuit Final A - National Speed Skating Oval, Beijing, China - February 15, 2022. Valerie Maltais of Canada, Ivanie Blondin of Canada and Isabelle Weidemann of Canada celebrate after winning gold. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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BEIJING, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The Canadian women's speed skating pursuit team, who glided to victory at the Beijing Olympics after Japan's Nana Takagi suffered a late fall, said they felt sorry for their rivals.

Takagi slipped at the last corner in Tuesday's final to end the defending champions' hopes of winning the gold medal.

"It's obviously a thing we've thought about for sure... We were like, how do we feel about this? Because they did fall on the last corner," Canada's Isabelle Weidemann said on Wednesday.

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"But the other thing is that they weren't able to do six laps is also how we look at it," added the 26-year-old, who has won a silver and a bronze medal in individual races in Beijing.

Canada gradually cut Japan's lead at the National Speed Skating Oval, narrowing the gap to three tenths of a second before Takagi crashed into the wall.

The Canadians finished in an Olympic record time.

"We have a lot of respect for their team," Weidemann said. "I also feel like we pushed the limit and so did they, and they weren't able to hold it in the last corner. We stayed on our feet, and we also had the Olympic record."

"We really felt for the Japanese. They've been such incredible competitors, and it's been a pretty big honour, racing against them."

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Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond

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