BEIJING (Reuters) – Dutchman Kai Verbij had to give up on a podium finish on Friday as an awkward lane change with his skating pair in the men’s 1,000 metres at the Beijing Olympics meant he had to give way, costing him any chance of a medal.
Paired with Canadian Laurent Dubreuil in the last race, Verbij found himself in an awkward position at a crossover. The world champion stuck to the rules and held back to let his opponent race ahead.
“I didn’t have enough speed to go before him at the lane change. I just had to quit, because otherwise I would have been disqualified and probably messed up his race,” a dejected Verbij said after finishing last.
“It’s pretty sad and I’m pretty disappointed that it happened at the Olympics, but yeah. Someone has to lose I guess,” the 27-year-old said.
Skaters are required to change lanes after every lap, and the skater on the outside lane has the right of way at the crossover.
“It’s tough to do that in an Olympic race,” said Dubreuil, who won the silver medal in an explosive race.
“I can’t say thank you enough for him, that was a really professional and classy move to do,” he added.
Gold medallist and compatriot Thomas Krol also felt for Verbij after the race.
“It’s just sad to see this happen, because he’s my best friend,” Krol said.
“He was on course for a medal for sure, and I was really cheering for him and hoping that he would be on the podium for me. My heart hurts,” he added.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Toby Davis)