Miho Takagi becomes first Japanese woman to win at allround world championships

AMSTERDAM -- Miho Takagi became the first Japanese woman to win the speedskating allround world championships after beating defending champion Ireen Wust in a thrilling 1,500-meter race Saturday.

The 1,500 win was partial revenge for Takagi, who was beaten into silver-medal position by Wust over the same distance at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

"I am very, very happy," Takagi said. "I am proud."

The world title capped a great season for Takagi, who won an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit when Japan beat the Netherlands in the final.

"She has shown all season that she's really good," Wust said. "She has more speed than me."

Wust won the closing 5,000 to finish second overall, falling just short in her chase for a seventh allround title. Fellow Dutchwoman Annouk van der Weijden finished third.

Takagi laid the foundation for her win Friday with a blistering fast 500-meter win at Amsterdam's Olympic Stadium.

In the men's competition, Dutch skater Sven Kramer is gunning for his 10th allround title and faces a tough challenge from training partner Patrick Roest and Norwegian Sverre Lunde Pedersen.

Roest won the opening 500 in 36.97, and Pedersen edged Kramer in the 5,000, winning in 6:33.81. Those results left Roest atop the overall standings, Pedersen in second and Kramer third ahead of the 1,500 and 10,000 races Sunday.

The championships are a test of skaters' all-round prowess, with races over 500, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meters for women and 500, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters for men.

They also were a test of how the skaters would cope with the warm and rainy conditions, which left puddles all over the oval, as the championships were staged outdoors for the first time since 2001.

"It's a shame, but we have to deal with it," Roest said. "It's outdoor skating. You never know what the weather will do."