SOCHI, Russia — Ireen Wust leaves the Sochi Games with the most medals of any Olympic athlete, an astonishing haul for a speedskater who was wracked by overtraining, insecurity and signs of burnout almost four years ago.
Wracked by overtraining, insecurity and signs of burnout, Wust seemed destined to fade away with a tag of unfulfilled potential as she headed into the 2010 Vancouver Games.
But there a gold she no longer expected in the 1,500 meters turned her career around. Physically and mentally, it was the spark that ignited her into a five-medal phenomenon at the Adler Arena.She capped her brilliant performance by leading the Dutch team to pursuit gold on Saturday — an Olympic record time of 2 minutes, 58.05 seconds — after she already won the 3,000 and added silver in the 1,000, 1,500 and 5,000.
“I would have called you crazy if you had predicted this four years ago,” said Wust, who has eight career Olympic medals.
The Dutch team left Sochi with 23 speedskating medals, eight of them gold. That’s two more golds than the Soviet Union won in speedskating in 1960, the previous record, and 10 more than East Germany’s 1988 total medals mark.
The Dutch men set an Olympic record of 3:37.71 in the team pursuit.
Passing the torch
Austrian Mario Matt, 34, won the men’s slalom to become the oldest Alpine champion in Olympic history. ... Marit Bjoergen won her sixth career gold medal by leading a Norwegian sweep in the women’s 30-kilometer cross country race. Bjoergen is now the most decorated female Winter Olympian in history with 10 medals, including six gold. ... In the women’s parallel slalom, Julia Dujmovits of Austria edged Anke Karstens of Germany. ... Russia won the men’s 4x7.5-kilometer biathlon relay. ... Before the Olympics started, the Canadian freestyle team spread the ashes of Sarah Burke, who died in a training accident in 2012, in the halfpipe and around other areas in the mountains above Sochi.