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Martina Sablikova wins 3,000m speed skating gold medal

Martina Sablikova celebrates her 3000m gold

Sablikova clinches speed skating gold

World number one Martina Sablikova produced a stunning display to clinch the women's 3,000m speed skating gold.

The Czech obliterated her opponents with a time of four minutes 02.53, over two seconds ahead of Germany's Stephanie Beckert, who took silver.

Home favourite Kristina Groves kept out German Daniela Anschutz-Thoms to take bronze at the Richmond Olympic oval.

Defending champion Irene Wust made a fast start in her run, but could not keep up with Sablikova's fast pace.

The 22-year-old Sablikova maintained an incredibly steady pace, keeping her lap times under 32 seconds until her final trip around the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Even then, she only went over by a hundredth of a second, powering across the line.

"I was so nervous because there were three more pairs going," said Sablikova, who sat in the middle of the oval as she watched the remaining pairs. "I was scared."

Martina Sablikova in action in Vancouver
Martina Sablikova is a five-time world champion

When the next-to-last group was done and she knew her time was good enough for at least a bronze, she jumped up to hug her coach.

"I was already happy when I got one medal," she added.

Wust of the Netherlands skated in the final pairing with Anschutz-Thoms and was more than a second under Sablikova's pace through with three laps to go.

But Wust couldn't hold on, fading badly over the final 1,200 to finish in seventh.

Sablikova will be one of the favourites in the 5,000, the longest event on the women's program.

"I felt very good going in," she said. "I have one medal now and everything is possible."

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see also
Live - Winter Olympics day three
14 Feb 10 |  Live coverage
Winter Olympics day three photos
14 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Kramer takes gold in Games record
13 Feb 10 |  Speed skating

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