Especially for the male part of the Dutch short track team, the ‘home race’ in the World Cup cycle is of great importance in the coming days. An Olympic starting place in the 1500 meters is on the way.
By Lisette van der Geest
Short track national coach Jeroen Otter, he says, takes care of every match. In that regard, the last of the World Cup series of four to be held from today through Sunday is no exception. But, in-house on the Dordrecht ice rink, it is also the week of truth for the Dutch drivers. While the women, led by the virtually unapproachable Suzanne Schulting, are on course to obtain the maximum number of available Olympic starting spots, the men in the 1500 meters are far from certain.
Otter: ,,If you haven’t done it three times with great drivers, you can say: three times is a charm. On the other hand, I think: how on earth is it possible that with this quality of riders we don’t have three fingers in the nose… But yes, you have to stand, you must not be disqualified, you must not make mistakes and then all goes well, they are in the top twenty. But that has to happen to three of our athletes, we’ll see if they can handle the tension.”
As long as no improbable scenarios take place, the following rule applies: if Sjinkie Knegt, Itzhak de Laat and Jens van ‘t Wout all three reach the semi-finals in the 1500 meters, the third starting place is earned. Knegt: ,,All three of us will have to do our best. That is the main goal this weekend: to secure the third starting position. It just has to happen.”
Sven Roes was replaced at the last minute by Friso Emans. Roes fell during a training session early in the afternoon and went off the ice with a sore ankle. No fracture was visible on the x-ray taken in the adjacent hospital. National coach Otter: ,,But my experience also says that that is not a guarantee that there is none, we have to hold our breath for a while. We’ll have to wait and see, we won’t use him this weekend.”
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