Irene Schouten breaks 20-year-old Olympic speed skating record

Irene Schouten broke a 20-year-old Olympic record Saturday. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Irene Schouten won gold in the women’s 3,000 meters Saturday, breaking an Olympic record in the process.

Schouten has dominated the long-distance events on the World Cup circuit this season. That didn’t change Saturday as she broke a 20-year-old Olympic record to win the gold.

She finished in a time of 3 minutes, 56.93 seconds.

“I had a lot of pressure from not only the medalists but also from myself,” said Schouten. “I made it, so I was really happy.”

The previous Olympic mark was 3:57.70, set by Germany’s Claudia Pechstein at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Pechstein was present to watch her record fall Saturday, skating in the opening pair. She became the oldest female athlete in Olympic history at 49. The German flag bearer was also just the second athlete – and first woman – to compete in eight Winter Games.

“I am the only woman in the whole world to be at eight Olympic Winter Games,” she said. “The result of today was not so important. It was just to race and to be here. I am super proud.”

Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida raced Schouten in the final pair. She held on to take silver in 3:58.06.

“To be in the last pair with Irene, I was quite happy,” the three-time Olympian said “I knew she’s the best, so I wanted in the beginning to be in the front and try to keep close to her at the finish line. I’m quite happy. This silver medal is kind of gold for me.”

Canada’s Isabelle Weidemann took bronze in 3:58.64.