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Dutch sweep to open speed skating world championships

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PYEONCGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — Sven Kramer won his eighth world 5000m title after a duel with Dutch countryman Jorrit Bergsma at the world single distances speedskating championships on the 2018 Olympic track on Thursday.

Hardly outdone, compatriot Ireen Wust regained the 3000m from Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic.

Kramer didn’t put any light between him and Bergsma until the 3000m split. Kramer clocked 6 minutes, 6.82 seconds, and Bergsma was less than three seconds behind.

Kramer said he was happy with his eighth 5000m gold medal, but he was looking forward to returning in a year for the Winter Games.

“365 days is far away,” he said. “Of course, it’s my goal, not only the 5000m, but also the 10,000m, the team pursuit and maybe a bonus 1500m.”

Peter Michael won the first worlds medal for New Zealand when he earned the bronze in 6:11.67, a personal best by almost four seconds.

Wust was the first woman in the race to go under four minutes at 3:59.5, and Sablikova said she didn’t believe she could beat it.

“I aimed at 4:02,” Sablikova said. “To go under four minutes … I only did that once in my lifetime. I did not think I could (beat Wust’s time), but during the race I felt good and I tried for sure.”

She just missed at 3:59.65. Antoinette de Jong of the Netherlands was third.

Wust won the 3000mpreviously in 2011 and 2013. Sablikova won it in 2007, 2012, 2015, and 2016. Their fight for the gold will be one of the highlights of the Olympics: Sablikova won in 2010, and Wust in 2006 and 2014.

MORE: PyeongChang 2018 daily schedule highlights

Helen Maroulis to miss world championships, eyes still on defending Olympic title

Helen Maroulis
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Helen Maroulis, the lone U.S. female wrestler to win an Olympic title, sat out this past weekend’s world team trials, which means she will not compete at the world championships in September.

Maroulis is working her way back from blowing out her right shoulder in a first-round loss at worlds on Oct. 24, after she returned from a concussion. She underwent surgery in November and was cleared to return earlier this spring before tweaking the shoulder again.

Maroulis said Friday she was cleared again to compete at trials but chose rest, recovery and her long-term health given what happened in 2018.

“It’s not coming from a place of fear,” she said. “I’m just not ready yet.

“If trials were end of June, everything would be perfect. I’m still feeling good and confident for 2020.”

As Maroulis stressed at 2018 Worlds, she prioritizes health over wrestling.

“Not just for myself, but to set an example because I get a lot of messages from kids on Instagram — I have a concussion, or my teammate has a concussion.” Maroulis said in October. “There’s this wrestler mindset to just push through — you’re the toughest, find a way to win. But there’s just a lot more to it.”

Maroulis, 27, put together one of the most dominant stretches in sport from 2015-17, going 78-1 overall among three different weight classes and going unscored upon at two world championships.

In between, she beat Saori Yoshida in the Rio Olympic 53kg final, preventing the Japanese legend from a record fourth Olympic title.

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Ex-partner of deceased figure skater John Coughlin says she was abused

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One of the former skating partners of two-time U.S. pairs champion John Coughlin has accused him in a series of social media posts of sexually assaulting her over a 2-year period.

Bridget Namiotka said on Facebook that Coughlin, who died by suicide in January, hurt “at least 10 people including me.” She skated with Coughlin from 2004, when she was 14, through the 2007 season.

Namiotka’s attorney confirmed to The Associated Press that the comments were made by her.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport and U.S. Figure Skating had given Coughlin, who became a coach and TV commentator after his retirement, an interim suspension for unspecified conduct. He was barred from attending events and activities sanctioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Coughlin was found dead Jan. 18 at his father’s home in Kansas City, Missouri.