SOCHI, Russia - Sven Kramer of the Netherlands set an Olympic record and defended his title in the men's 5,000 meters Saturday, winning gold with a time of 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds.
With the king, queen and prime minister of his country cheering him on, the 27-year-old Dutchman flew around the big oval with amazingly consistent laps, all falling within a range of eight-tenths of a second. He easily beat the Olympic mark of 6:14.60 he set while winning gold at Vancouver four years ago.
The powerful Dutch team swept the medals. Jan Blokhuijsen took the silver and Jorrit Bergsma claimed the bronze.
Kramer is determined to sweep the two longest speedskating races and make up for a series of Olympic flops that have marred his otherwise brilliant career -- most notably at the Vancouver Games, where he made an inexplicable error in the 10,000. Directed into the wrong lane by his coach, he was disqualified in a race he should have won easily.
There's more. As a teenager during the 2006 Winter Games, Kramer clipped a lane marker during team pursuit and took out his heavily favored squad. There were more problems in the pursuit four years ago, when some poor teamwork cost the Dutch another shot at gold.
Only three gold medals will do in Sochi.
One down, two to go.
Blokhuijsen earned the silver in 6:15.71. Bergsma set a quicker pace than Kramer early, but he couldn't maintain the speed. He settled for bronze in 6:16.66.