Parra wins speedskating gold

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

AP Sports WriterKEARNS, Utah (AP) -- Derek Parra set a world record in the 1,500 meters to claim Olympic gold Tuesday, becoming the first double-medalist for the Americans at the speedskating oval.

Parra's stunning time of 1 minute, 43.95 seconds was more than a second lower than the pre-Olympic mark of 1:45.20 held by South Korea's Lee Kyu-hyuk.

Parra, a former inline skater from San Bernardino, Calif., added to the surprising silver he won in the 5,000.

Jochem Uytdehaage of the Netherlands, who won gold in the 5,000, took the silver this time. He was the first skater to break the world record, but his time of 1:44.57 was best for only about an hour.

In the 5,000, Parra was the first skater to break the world record, only to have the Dutch skater take the mark even lower.

Norway's Adne Sondral, the defending 1,500 champion, made a late charge to steal the bronze away from American sprinter Joey Cheek, who was on world-record pace until fading badly on the final lap.

Cheek, who won bronze in the 1,000, missed a second medal by just 0.08 seconds. Another U.S. skater, Nick Pearson, was sixth as Americans claimed half of the top six places, continuing their remarkable performance at the Utah Olympic Oval.

While a Dutch band serenaded Parra, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was among the sellout crowd that applauded the 5-foot-4 American.

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