Canada's Bloemen criticizes 'ridiculous' speed-skating schedule after heartbreak in Beijing

Ted-Jan Bloemen isn't happy with how the speed-skating schedule was organized in the Beijing Olympics. (Getty)
Ted-Jan Bloemen isn't happy with how the speed-skating schedule was organized in the Beijing Olympics. (Getty)

Canada's Ted-Jan Bloemen believes the Beijing Olympics' schedule has put speed skaters such as himself at a disadvantage.

A gold medallist in Pyeongchang four years ago, Bloemen expressed his frustration about having to race conservatively in this year's men's 10,000-metre event in order to save energy for the team pursuits.

“I don't know who made the schedule, but it's ridiculous,” Bloemen said via the Canadian Press. “You can't recover in two days from digging really deep on a 10k. The countries that don't have skaters in the 10k have a huge advantage in the team pursuit.”

The Beijing team pursuits were scheduled to start two days after the men's 10,000m.

The 35-year-old Bloemen finished eighth in this edition of the Games with a time of 13:01.39 seconds, way short of his gold medal in the last edition of the Winter Olympics. Still in podium contention during Friday's event, Bloemen signalled to his coach at around the halfway point of the race that he had no more gas in the tank.

“I tried to bring down the lap times a little bit, a couple times,” said Bloemen. “But I couldn't hold them. I had to push too hard to do those lap times. So, I made the decision to save myself a little bit for the team pursuit, because it starts in two days.”

While Bloemen was hoping to defend his crown in these Olympics, many attribute a non-COVID illness that sidelined him for over a month prior to these games as a possible source of his shortcomings.

“I think it's very clear right now that Ted has been sick too much,” Bart Schouten, Bloemen’s coach, told reporters. “We just see now that even a 5k or a 10k is just too long for him. He's just not in good enough shape, and it's cost him too much being sick this close to the Olympics, there was no time to build it back up.”

Nils van der Poel of Sweeden took home the gold in a world-record-breaking time of 12:30.74 in the men's 10,000m.

Bloemen will look to avenge this loss in the team pursuit, which starts on Sunday.

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