Columbia Easily Wins the Speed Skating Event
France proved its strength today in the final speed skating events of the 2005 World Games.
But its efforts were countered by the powerful Colombian squad, which easily piled up more than twice the medals of its nearest competitors.
In all, Colombia collected 11 medals during the three days of inline speed skating in Duisberg, Germany.
France, New Zealand and Italy finished in a tie for second in the medal count with five a piece.
Three French Golds
The French men's squad dominated the final day of competition, winning three gold medals.
Thomas Boucher won the 3000-meter elimination; Alexis Contin, the 5000-meter elimination; and Baptiste Grandgirard, the 10,000-meter elimination.
But Colombia's women countered by winning five medals: two golds, two silvers and one bronze. (Hyper's Cecilia Baena won the 3000-meter elimination and Silvia Nino won the 10,000-meter elimination.)
Korean Women Stretch Their Legs
South Korea was another country with reason to cheer today. Its women won three medals, including a gold in the 5000-meter elimination.
New Zealand's Kalon Dobbin added to his medal total to seal his lead in the individual rankings. He won a silver medal in the 10,000-meter elimination, to end the Games with two gold and two silver medals.
Meanwhile, his brother, Shane, won his first medal of the Games: a silver in the 5000-meters.
Together, they won all five of New Zealand's medals.
The United States rolled away from the World Games with no medals. Jilleanne Rookard came close in the 5000 meters, but ended up fourth.
Where Were the Top Skaters?
Of course, it would be a mistake to read too much into the medal totals.
Participation in the 2005 World Games was spotty, at best.
Many of the world's best inline speed skaters did not compete, for one reason or another, in the event for non-Olympic sports.
Some countries -- notably France, Colombia, New Zealand and Korea -- sent most of their top skaters.
But even these countries did not send all of their best skaters. Colombia, for instance, did not send Jorge Botero (who apparently chose not to compete); and New Zealand did not send Nicole Begg.
Other countries, including England and Switzerland, sent no team at all.
The United States, formerly the top speed skating country in the world, sent a small team (two women and one man).
But the team lacked many of the country's top racers, including Joey Mantia and Jessica Smith, who instead chose to compete in this week's U.S. Indoor National Championships in Pensacola, Fla.
(posted on July 21, 2005)
Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson
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