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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2010

Canada's Nesbitt rallies for gold

 •  Lysacek tops Plushenko for gold

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Christine Nesbitt

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RICHMOND, British Columbia Halfway through the race, Christine Nesbitt figured the gold medal she was supposed to win had slipped away.

Her legs felt sluggish, her technique all wrong.

"This is not going well," she thought to herself.

But Nesbitt turned it all around on the final lap, erasing a deficit of more than a half-second to claim Canada's first gold at the speedskating oval in the 1,000 meters yesterday.

She hardly sounded like a winner when it was done. Maybe it was dealing with the weight of an entire nation, which counted on her to succeed Cindy Klassen as Canada's newest speedskating star.

Klassen won five medals at the Turin Games four years ago, including gold.

Now Nesbitt has one, too.

"I'm still reflecting a lot on my race," she said. "I know it wasn't pretty. I've skated a lot better 1,000s this year, so it's hard for me not to be critical. I am happy, but I'm kind of back and forth. Mixed emotions. I can't believe I won. I can't believe it was so close."

How close? Two-hundredths of a second over Annette Gerritsen of the Netherlands, matching the tightest finish in the history of the women's 1,000 Bonnie Blair's 1992 victory over China's Ye Qiaobo.

"I wasn't very efficient. I was panicking. I was definitely fighting demons. I didn't feel technically good," said Nesbitt, who had won every 1,000 during the World Cup season but cut this one a little too close for comfort.

No one in the crowd was complaining.

Canada had its first gold at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

American Jennifer Rodriguez, who won two medals at the Salt Lake City Games, briefly held the top spot before dropping to seventh (1:17.08).