The best he has ever been. Not at NK distances, not at NK sprint, let alone in the World Cup circuit or during World Cup distances. A podium in a national context was the best result obtained by Wesly Dijs until Friday. But in Canada, he broke the spell, after years of toiling on the sidelines: in the 1,500 meters he surprisingly stayed ahead of China’s Zhongyan Ning and Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis with 1.42.93. A first at 27 years old.
Dijs was once called the king of training. The speed he records then, he rarely shows in competition. Next, he lacks pure relaxation in his shots. Thus, the sprinter from Soest rode as an extra for years.
The glimpse that he can skate really hard came last season in Salt Lake City. Dijs, who hadn’t qualified for the World Cup cycle, was then allowed to replace Chris Huizinga and took the opportunity. He finished fourth in the United States, second Dutchman. Behind Thomas Krol, but before Kjeld Nuis. With his time of 1:42.38, he beat his previous personal best by almost two seconds. The result embalmed his soul.
Kjeld Nuis, a winning type, is the reference
After all, Nuis is the benchmark for Dijs. Not only because they have been teammates of the Reggeborgh team for three years, but above all because of what Nuis shows on the ice during the official competition. Double Olympic gold medalist, double world champion, European title holder, world record holder; it’s a record that can only make Dijs’ mouth water. “Kjeld radiates class. He’s a winning guy.”
The fact that he was ahead of Nuis in the result back then raised hopes. It was three weeks before the Olympic qualifying tournament and Dijs figured a stunt might be in the works in this form. He was deceived.
During the Beijing Winter Games qualifier, he was no longer a shadow of himself, not even his former faceless self. “I put too much pressure on myself, I had a Blackout the day it was supposed to happen. I finished eleventh, a disappointment.
View from race to race
After this disappointment, Dijs decided to battle it out race by race. Don’t drive yourself crazy with illusions, but see where you are today. He also applied this strategy in Calgary. In height, where his abilities usually come into their own. “It went as I wanted. I drove focused, I was lively, I left nothing behind me. Laughing: “But afterwards, of course, it’s easy to talk. If you win, there is nothing to complain about.
The triumph, described by Dijs as “a relief”, fuels ambition. However, he does not want to fall back into the trap. “Of course I want to qualify for the World Cup in March via NK distances in February, but I’m not looking too far anymore. I have now taken a step. Next week in Calgary, when we play again, I want try to improve myself, to further increase my self-confidence, which is essential for the second half of the season.
Nuis builds on Wüst’s success: ‘She said: You can do that too’
Kjeld Nuis extended his Olympic title in the 1500 meters on Tuesday. He was inspired by Ireen Wüst. Nuis now has a unique stat: three Olympic races, three gold medals.
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