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BEIJING: Emotions ran high as the Netherlands won gold in the short track speed skating women’s 3,000 metres relay at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Sunday, with the Dutch team competing in their first Olympic final since the death of a former team mate.

Team leader Suzanne Schulting let out a scream of delight as she crossed the line to claim her third Olympic title after beating the Olympic record with Selma Poutsma, Xandra Velzeboer and Yara van Kerkhof in four minutes 03.409 seconds.

Their Olympic record was less than a second slower than the world record they set in Beijing last October in a World Cup test event.

The Netherlands became the first European team to win this event at the Olympics after beating 2018 champions South Korea, and China, who came home third after finishing strongly to take the bronze ahead of Canada.

Schulting and Van Kerkhof had won bronze at the 2018 Games with Lara van Ruijven, who died suddenly at the age of 27 in July, 2020.

Van Ruijven was at a training camp in France when she was taken to a hospital with an auto-immune disease and died a few days later in Perpignan.

The Dutch quartet were wearing a heart on their left sleeve and blew a kiss together on the podium as Schulting also celebrated her second gold of this Games, having won the 1,000m event on Friday.

“It was really important to become Olympic champions, and I am so proud of the girls,” said Schulting, now a triple Olympic gold medallist.

“Today, Lara proudly looked down on us. She has a special place in our hearts. This was her dream too.”

“It was for Lara, our team mate,” said Van Kerkhof. “Of course we miss her every day but she gives us strength and it’s also thanks to her that we’re here. She’s in our mind and in our hearts. We feel her presence and strength.”

The short track speed skating events will conclude on Wednesday with the men’s 5,000 metres relay and the women’s 1,500 metres.

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