- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - The Dutch have taken their domination at the Olympic speedskating oval to a new level.

They aren’t just hoarding most of the medals.

Now, they’re keeping it in the family.

Michel Mulder led another sweep by the Netherlands at Adler Arena on Monday, edging teammate Jan Smeekens by 12-thousanths of a second. Mulder’s identical twin brother, Ronald, got the bronze.


“It is a dream, of course, to come here, me and my twin brother,” Michel Mulder said. “It would be the perfect scenario to be 1-2, but together on the podium is amazing.”

It was the first gold medal ever in the men’s 500 for the Netherlands, which also became the first country to take the top three Olympic spots in the sport’s most furious race.

Smeekens led after the first of two heats and the scoreboard initially showed a tie after he crossed the line in the second leg, based on hundredths of a second. After a bit more tabulating, Mulder had the gold with a total of 1 minute, 9.312 seconds - carried out to the thousandths of a second in the official results to show just how close it was.

The silver went to Smeekens in 1:09.324, while Ronald Mulder grabbed the bronze with the fastest run of the day, 34.49 in the second round to finish at 1:09.46.

“I didn’t really realize what time I needed,” Michel Mulder said. “In the past, I have lost races by one-hundredths a few times. It was so unbelievable.”

Indeed, he lost to Mo Tae-bum by that margin at the 2012 world single-distance championships in Heerenveen.

“Now, Olympic champion,” Mulder said.

Mo, the defending Olympic champion from South Korea, was fourth this time. The other medalists from the 2010 Winter Games took the next two spots: 2010 bronze winner Joji Kato of Japan was fifth, followed by countryman and reigning silver medalist Keiichiro Nagashima.

Smeekens led after the opening heat, putting up a time of 34.59 seconds to claim the coveted final race of the second round, which meant he would know the time to beat.

Turns out, he just missed.

When the scoreboard flashed the unofficial time, Smeekens slapped his coach’s hand and rocked his head back in delight. But it’s common in speedskating for the timing system to make slight adjustments, and the celebration was premature. Smeekens time was adjusted upward just enough to turn gold into silver.

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