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Kiwi speed skater wins 5000m bronze

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/02/2017

New Zealander Peter Michael has shattered his personal best in winning 5000m bronze at the world speed skating championships in South Korea.

One year out from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the Palmerston North 27-year-old clocked 6min 11.67sec, nearly four seconds under his previous best.

Sven Kramer won gold in 6:06.82 at the Gangneung Olympic Oval, holding off Dutch teammate Jorrit Bergsma, who took silver in 6:09.33.

Michael was paired with Douwe de Vries in his heat, but kept his lap times flat to seal the heat win ahead of the fourth-ranked Dutchman's 6:13.70.

The Kiwi had a nervous wait after his heat, with Kramer and Bergsma in the penultimate pair, and Ted-Jan Bloemen racing in the final round.

The Canadian, who won the 5000m at the last World Cup in Berlin, couldn't maintain his pace and finished fifth in 6:14.73.

"I watched the races together with my coach and I could only hope that my time was good enough," Michael said afterwards.

The ice at Gangneung, some 230 kilometres east of Seoul, drew plenty of praise from competitors, although many noted a tailwind.

Michael said he skated quicker than anticipated, but was unsure about the advantage or otherwise a tailwind offered.

"My technique is not down perfect like some of the other skaters, so I don't think I get the same bonus some of the others do.

"But I'm always looking to improve, also on my inline technique. It's going to be an endless journey on the ice and everything is possible. I never put a limit on anything."

Michael, who won New Zealand's first-ever speed skating World Cup in Kazakhstan last year, is joined in Gangneung by fellow Kiwis Reyon Kay and Sochi Olympic flagbearer Shane Dobbin.

The New Zealanders will be competing in the new Olympic mass start discipline as well as the team pursuit.

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