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Olympics: Mulder edges 500m speed skating thriller

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Speed skater Michel Mulder saw off a fierce challenge from Dutch teammate Jan Smeekens and his own twin brother to snatch the 500m Olympic gold on Monday by just 0.01sec as the Netherlands swept the podium.

Mulder, 27, who won with a combined time from his two races of 69.31sec, watched in agony as Smeekens raced in the 20th and final pair in a thrilling climax to the competition.

Smeekens thought he had won when he crossed the finish line and started celebrating as the scoreboard displayed the number one ranking after his name, but a correction within seconds showed Mulder had taken gold and his expression of joy turned to agony.

Ronald Mulder, the twin brother of Michel, took bronze in a time of 69.46sec and defending champion Mo Tae-Bum had to settle for fourth place.

Gold medallist Mulder, who went in the 19th pair, watched Smeekens -- who led the winner by 0.04sec after the first race -- with his head in his hands and because of the confusion it was several moments before he realised he was Olympic champion.

When the final result flashed up he let out a roar of triumph and pulled his orange skating suit open.

"When I crossed the line I just didn't know. Then I saw that I had won and I couldn't believe it," said Mulder.

"Now I have won everything there is to win. After all this work, I'm the Olympic champion, I can't believe it."

Sanguine silver medallist Smeekens said: "At first I had mixed feelings because it was so close. I looked at the scoreboard and I thought that I'd won, and seconds later I saw I didn't.

"But now I have to be happy with my second place. It was a very stressful day, and now I've won an Olympic medal. It's unbelievable."

Michel Mulder -- whose gold was the first for the Netherlands in the 500m event -- claimed the 2014 world sprint title last month in Nagano, Japan.

He skated 34.31sec at the Dutch trials in Heerenveen, equalling the world record for low-altitude tracks.

It was the second speed skating clean sweep for the Netherlands at the Adler Arena in three days of competition after the country's men took all three medals in the 5,000m on Saturday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140210/olympics-mulder-edges-500m-speed-skating-thriller-0