Suzanne Schulting wins every gold at short track worlds, thinking of late teammate

Suzanne Schulting
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Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands won all five events at the world short track speed skating championships over the weekend, but one gold medal stood out in particular.

Schulting, 23, and teammates were in tears after she won the 500m on Saturday on home ice in Dordrecht.

“The first thing I thought about really was Lara,” Schulting said, according to an International Skating Union translation.

At the last world championships in 2019, countrywoman Lara van Ruijven took gold in the 500m sprint. Van Ruijven died last July following complications from an autoimmune disorder after feeling ill at a training camp in the French Pyrenees. She was 27.

“You are in my heart forever,” Schulting wrote on Instagram then.

“After we left the hospital in Perpignan and went back to Font-Romeu, after saying goodbye to Lara, I had set myself an important goal,” Schulting said on Saturday, according to the ISU. “I wanted to keep the world title in the 500m within the Dutch team.”

Schulting was not previously known as a sprinter. In 2018, she won the 1000m in PyeongChang to become the first Olympic short track champion for the Netherlands, the most successful nation in long-track speed skating with 42 gold medals. (Schulting started out in long track. A coach suggested she try short track to practice skating corners, and she got hooked.)

In 2019 and 2020, she ranked No. 1 in the world in the 1000m and the 1500m. She was outside the top five in the 500m, uniquely often an all-out race for a little more than 40 seconds, where the start can be crucial.

Schulting had no chance to put her offseason sprint work to the test in international competition until last week. The World Cup season, which usually starts in the autumn, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Expectations increased for Schulting to excel at her home worlds after South Korea and China, historically the world’s top two short track nations, did not enter teams. Kim Boutin, the top female skater from Canada, another strong nation, also chose not to travel.

Before Saturday’s 500m final, van Ruijven’s last race was shown on big screens inside the arena, according to the ISU.

Schulting had the advantageous lane one, closest to the inside, and took the lead going into the first turn. She held it through the full four and a half laps, denying reigning Olympic champion Arianna Fontana of Italy.

“It’s so impressive to see that, with all the pressure, everybody expects her to do it, she still does it,” teammate and bronze medalist Selma Poutsma said.

Kristen Santos was fourth, the best finish for an American at worlds since the nation’s last medal in 2014.

Schulting won the 1500m and 500m on Saturday, then the 1000m, 3000m and relay on Sunday, taking the overall title, too. She became the second woman to win every gold at a worlds after Canadian Sylvie Daigle in 1983, according to Gracenote.

Also at worlds, Canadian Charles Hamelin won the men’s 1500m at age 36, becoming one of the oldest individual world champions in history. Hamelin, a medalist at the last four Olympics, including three golds, contemplated retirement after the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Since deciding to skate on, he came back from right knee surgery and an ankle sprain that sidelined him for three months. In 2022 at his last Olympics, he eyes what he says is the last missing piece from his trophy cabinet: an Olympic 1000m medal.

Hungarian brothers Shaoang Liu and Shaolin Sandor Liu won the 500m and 1000m, respectively, with Shaoang taking the men’s overall title.

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Dmitriy Balandin, surprise Olympic swimming champion, retires

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Dmitriy Balandin, the Kazakh swimmer who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 Rio Olympics, retired at age 27.

“Today I would like to announce the end of my sports career,” Balandin said last week, according to Kazakhstan’s Olympic Committee. “I am still inspired. A new phase of my life begins. I have a lot of cool projects in my head that will soon be implemented.”

Balandin reportedly has coaching aspirations.

In 2016, he won the Olympic men’s 200m breaststroke out of lane eight as the last qualifier into the final. He edged American Josh Prenot by seven hundredths of a second and became Kazakhstan’s first Olympic swimming medalist.

He followed that up with 11th- and 17th-place finishes in the breaststrokes in Tokyo last year.

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U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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