Miho Takagi wins 1,000 meter speedskating gold, Brittany Bowe claims bronze

BEIJING -- Miho Takagi of Japan won her fourth speedskating medal of the Beijing Games and the first individual gold of her career with an Olympic-record victory in the women's 1,000 meters Thursday.

The silver went to Jutta Leerdam of the Netherlands, while Brittany Bowe of the United States claimed the first individual medal of her career with a bronze.

Takagi added to silver medals in the 500, 1,500 and team pursuit at the Beijing Games -- and especially sweet after losing a gold in the pursuit when her older sister, Nana, fell in the final turn with Japan leading.

Miho Takagi eclipsed her performance from the Pyeongchang Games four years ago, where she took gold in the team pursuit, silver in the 1,500 and bronze in the 1,000.

Takagi won with a time of 1 minute, 13.19 seconds, easily breaking the previous Olympic record of 1:13.56 set in 2018 by Jorien ter Mors.

Ter Mors did not get a chance to defend her title after failing to make the powerful Dutch team, but the Netherlands still came away with a medal.

Leerdam posted a time of 1:13.83 despite dragging her left hand on the ice to stay upright in a turn.

Bowe grabbed the bronze in 1:14.61, only 0.1 ahead Russian skater Angelina Golikova and a huge relief for the longtime star of the U.S. program.

"I got off to a great start, really strong and fast, but my lap speed just hasn't been there," Bows said. "Takagi is skating out of her mind, and I was gunning for that time, but it didn't happen. I was going for gold, but I'll probably take the bronze. I'm proud of the performance."

Bowe's only medal over three Olympics had been a bronze in the team pursuit at the Pyeongchang Games.

The 2018 Games were especially excruciating for the 33-year-old former inline champion from Ocala, Florida. Bowe had one fourth-place showing and two fifths in her three individual events, missing out on three potential medals by a total of 0.85 seconds.

This time, the clock worked in her favor.

Bowe's medal was the third at the Beijing Games for a much-improved American team -- with all three ex-inline skaters from balmy Ocala contributing to the haul. Erin Jackson won the 500 meters, and Joey Mantia led a bronze-medal effort in the men's team pursuit.

The U.S. team won only one medal -- total -- at the last two Winter Olympics.

Bowe was widely lauded before the games for giving up her spot in the 500, an event she won at the U.S. trials, to ensure that Jackson would be able to skate in Beijing.

The gold medal favorite slipped at the trials and finished third, putting her spot on the team in jeopardy. Bowe's generosity allowed Jackson to begin preparing for the Olympics without the weight of wondering if she'd get a chance to race in her best event.

The Americans wound up with a third spot after the final allocations were made, so Bowe and Jackson both competed in the 500.

Jackson skated to a groundbreaking gold, becoming the first Black woman to win an Olympic speedskating medal, and she was effusive in her praise for Bowe's gesture.

Bowe finished 16th in the 500 and only managed a 10th-place showing in the 1,500. She was down to perhaps her last chance in 1,000 since it seems unlikely she'll return for a fourth Olympics in 2026.

After a lap, it was clear that Bowe wasn't going to catch the blistering times of the top two skaters, but she hung on at the end to claim a bronze that almost surely felt like a gold.

"I've got a ton of emotions," Bowe said. "Honored, blessed, happy. Words can't describe it. Thanks to the countless number of people encouraging me. It means so much, it's been quite the journey.

"Everyone pushed me to the line to bring home that bronze."

A few hours before the race, Jackson -- who has already traveled back to the U.S. after her only Olympic event -- tweeted words of encouragement to Bowe.

"You are a mentor. A friend. A teammate. A sister," Jackson wrote. "Thank you for playing a huge part in my journey to gold."

Information from ESPN's Tom Hamilton and The Associated Press was used in this report.