Takagi emptied the tank in golden 7th race

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Miho Takagi celebrates after winning the women’s 1,000 meters on Friday.

BEIJING — After finally reaching the top of the medal podium in her seventh race of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Miho Takagi exchanged an emotional hug with her Dutch coach Johan de Wit, who had always believed in her.

“I was able to give everything I had at the end,” said Takagi after winning the women’s 1,000 meters in speed skating on Thursday. “Even if I hadn’t won the gold, I am happy knowing that I have no regrets from my races.”

Takagi maintained the in-form feeling she had from the 500 meters four days earlier, in which she earned the second of her three silver medals over five events.

“I needed to start in the same way [as in the 500],” said Takagi, whose other silvers came in the 1,500 and team pursuit.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Miho Takagi skates in the women’s 1,000 meters at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday.

Takagi clocked 17.60 seconds for the first 200 meters, tied for fastest among all entries. She sped over the final 400-meter lap in 28.71 seconds, and topped silver medalist Jutta Leerdam of the Netherlands by 0.65 seconds to win in a new Olympic record of 1 minute 13.19 seconds.

Including the three rounds of the women’s team pursuit, it was her seventh race over a 13-day span. Including the team event, the race distances and practice menus were all different. It made it difficult for her to be constantly at her peak, and yet even in the only race in which she did not medal, the 3,000 meters, she placed a solid sixth.

Each time she stepped on the ice, she further proved herself to be a top-level skater.

Takagi was also shouldering the heavy burden of serving as captain of the Japanese team in Beijing.

“To be honest, I had reached my physical limit,” she said. “Winning a gold medal in my seventh race was proof of the strength of the team behind me.”

Takagi’s memorable and record-setting challenge culminated in her greatest finish.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Miho Takagi, left, hugs teammate Nao Kodaira after winning the women’s 1,000 meters on Friday.