Updated: Sunday, 16 February 2014 02:42 | By Agence France-Presse

Brodka wins 1,500m speed skate after photo finish

Poland's Zbigniew Brodka won a dramatic tussle for 1,500m Olympic speed skating gold on Saturday, edging out devastated Dutchman Koen Verweij by just three-thousandths of a second in a photo finish. 


Brodka wins 1,500m speed skate after photo finish

Poland's Zbigniew Brodka competes in the Men's Speed Skating 1500m at the Adler Arena during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 15, 2014 - by Jung Yeon-Je

Brodka, skating in the 17th pair, crossed the line in 1min 45.00sec and that looked enough for victory before the final few metres of Verweij's skate.

The Dutchman, who went in the 20th and final pair, strained every sinew to cross the line and the clock showed a dead heat.

After about 20 seconds of nervous waiting it was confirmed that Brodka had won by just 0.003sec in 1:45.006, denying the Dutch yet another success at Sochi's Adler Arena.

Brodka -- the first Olympic speed skating champion from Poland -- raised his arms in triumph but Verweij looked devastated to see the gold snatched from him, sitting dumbfounded with his orange suit peeled to his waist.

Canada's Denny Morrison won bronze in a time of 1:45.22.

"I can't believe this. The world championships and the Olympic Games -- those were my dreams, and I now I've got the gold medal," said Brodka, 29.

"I was nervous before the race. After the finish I didn't know it right away, because they showed (on the scoreboard) Koen Verweij as the winner. When I saw I had won, it was an unbelievable feeling."

Silver medallist Verweij, 23, said: "It wasn't what I wanted, it wasn't enough. I should be happy winning silver but this feels like a huge loss. 

"At the moment it feels like all my hard work and my consistent races were for nothing. After such a season you know you can do it and I felt pretty good."

The United States again failed to win a medal despite the decision to switch skinsuits amid speculation that the outfits were partly to blame for their poor showing in Sochi.

Shani Davis, a two-time Olympic champion over 1,000m, could only finish 11th.

The Americans entered the speed skating competition in Sochi with high hopes of winning several medals.

But in a hugely disappointing tournament so far Heather Richardson's seventh-place finish in the women's 1,000m is their best result.  

"For the remainder of the Winter Olympic Games, team USA speed skaters will be wearing the previously approved Under Armour skinsuits used during recent World Cup competition," US Speedskating president Mike Plant said in a statement on Saturday. 

US speed skating coach Kip Carpenter is not expecting a dramatic improvement in performances, however, saying the Dutch are performing better on the ice. 

"A skater does not lose a second (on the 1,000m) because of a skinsuit," he said after training on Friday.

"Anyone who thinks that, does not know speed skating. In my opinion, the Dutch are just sitting deeper and pushing harder. They are just skating better than us."

The Netherlands have won four of the seven golds so far in Sochi, with one apiece for China, South Korea and Poland. 

Underlining their dominance, the Dutch have won 13 out of 21 medals handed out.

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