Canada’s Jeremy Wotherspoon gets gold in 500 & second overall at world sprints

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., won the gold medal in the 500 metres but that was no consolation for him in finishing second overall on Sunday at the long track speed skating world sprint championships.

"I’m disappointed to come to the world championships and really not have one satisfying race," said Wotherspoon, 28, one of Canada’s most successful international athletes of all time. He’s a four-time world sprint champion and his glittering international record includes 54 World Cup victories, the most ever by a male speed skater.

Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands successfully defended his overall title compiling 137.310 points over the four races this weekend. Wennemars took the crown in dramatic fashion winning the gold in the 1,000 in the final pairing of the day against his arch-rival Wotherspoon who clocked eighth.

Wotherspoon was runner-up for the second straight year at 137.820 and Joey Cheek of the U.S., was third at 137.975.

In the 1,000 Wennemars clocked a scorching 1:07.46 while Wotherspoon needed to be within 0.12 seconds to take the title but clocked 1:08.60

"The last 200-metres I died pretty bad," said Wotherspoon, who has now medalled at eight straight world sprint championships. "On the last turn I felt like I was standing still when Wennemars passed me. He beat me by over a second so it wasn’t great. Going in to the 1,000 I knew I had to go for it. The entire competition came down to one race and I had to focus on every part of the race and do it right."

Wotherspoon started the day well tying for first in the 500 metres with Russian Dmitri Lobkov at 34.67 seconds to maintain his overall lead. However Wotherspoon wasn’t pleased with that race and says mistakes may have cost him valuable points in the overall standings.

"I had a terrible start, my worst in years," said Wotherspoon about his 500. "My biggest strength is the 500 and most of the times I’ve done well at this competition I’ve dominated it. My 500 has got to be better or I’m putting myself in potential trouble, regardless of how my 1,000 is going."

Brock Miron of Calgary was 23rd overall and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke, Que., 29th.

On the women’s side, Jennifer Rodriguez of the U.S., took the gold in the 1,000-metre, her only win this weekend, to finish first overall with 150.015 points. Anzhelika Kotyuga of Belarus was second at 150.415 and Sabine Volker of Germany third at 150.425.

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg won a bronze medal in the 1,000 and finished eighth overall. Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg was sixth in the 500 and 11thin the 1,000 for 12th while Krisy Myers of Lloydminster, Sask., was 27th in both races Sunday to finish 26th.

Klassen is tuning up for the world all around championships next month in Moscow. She was the all around world champion two years ago and missed most of last season with an injury. She’s also concerned with her starts.

"In the 1,000 my first 200 metres were a second slower than my top rivals," said Klassen. "That’s something I really need to work on. I wanted to do a lot better here, but it was a very tough competition."