Coach’s Error Cost Holland’s Sven Kramer Gold Medal

Holland’s Sven Kramer was a heavy favorite in the men’s 10,000 meter speedskating event on Tuesday. He skated as well as he ever had in his life. And yet, an unforeseeable error cost Kramer his second gold medal of the Vancouver Games, SI.com reports.

With eight laps left to go, Kramer’s coach, Gerard Kemkers, called out “inner lane,” instructing the Dutchman which path to take. Kramer -– six seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Lee-Seung-Hoon of South Korea at the time — was on track to take the outer lane of the course, so he hesitated, but ultimately deferred to his coach’s knowledge. Kramer crossed the finish line first with a time of 12:54.50, certain he had won gold.

“Maybe this was my best 10K ever,” he said. “Every stroke was 100 percent.”

Not surprisingly, he was inconsolable when Kemkers broke the bad news: He had been disqualified for a a mistaken lane change.

“Usually, I don’t want to blame anyone else, but this time, I can’t do anything else,” Kramer said. “I wanted to go on the outer lane, then I thought, ‘He’s probably right,’ and went to the inner lane. I should have gone with my own thought, but I was brought into doubt.”

South Korea’s Hoon was awarded the gold medal after Kramer was disqualified, and third-place finisher Ivan Skobrev of Russia was promoted from bronze to silver. Skobrev was convinced afterward that, under different circumstances, Kramer would not have erred.

“It’s not only about your shape, your muscles, and your body-feeling,” Skobrev said. “It’s also about your head. Today, he had huge pressure. I’m really so sorry for him. Today, my medal should be bronze.”

That’s of little consolation to Kramer, but he will have a chance to redeem himself in the team pursuit event on Saturday. Four years ago in Turin, Kramer tripped over a lane marker and fell, costing the Dutch a gold medal.

A spot atop the podium with his Dutch compatriots on Saturday would help erase the agony of his most recent blunder.

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