No World Cup in Stavanger and the Olympic Ovals of Salt Lake City and Calgary will also be avoided by Sven Kramer next month. The road to the Olympic qualifying tournament, at the end of December in Heerenveen, runs for him through training camps and marathons, such as Saturday evening at IJsbaan De Westfries in Hoorn.

“The route there is everything for me,” says Kramer, who chose a different exit after a disappointing first World Cup. In Poland, he finished ninth in the B group in the five kilometers, the distance in which he slid to gold in the last three Winter Games and won silver in 2006.

“This is certainly something different, but no less fun”, he looks back on the marathon in Hoorn. “I think I made a good choice. All the balls in the OKT, that’s what depends most for me.”

“Know it’s going to be exciting”

At the OKT, Kramer must qualify for the Olympic Games. With his time of 6.30 in the 5,000 meters in that first World Cup, Beijing seems very far away. “I know it’s going to be exciting, but we’ve faced hotter fires.”

Watch Kramer’s five kilometers in Tomaszów, a week ago, here:

Kramer had surgery on his back last spring to reduce the complaints of an injury that has plagued him for almost his entire career. It takes a long time to recover from that operation.

“As a result, you see that the base is relatively narrow and I miss that base in the game. Then you can choose to close your eyes and do stupidly what everyone is doing. Or we put our finger on the sore spot, name what is not right. and are going to work on it. We have opted for the latter.”

Not shocked

Kramer does not describe skipping three of the four World Cups to the OKT as a gamble. “This is what I need. It didn’t shock me, but it wasn’t fun. And I rode quite a few good training races before that and it went well at the Dutch National Championships too.”

“The match in Poland was out of order. Then you can close your eyes to that, or say: this was not good if you want to win. And that’s what we’re going for, so we choose a different route.”

And what will a marathon in Hoorn bring him? “What you gain the most with it is that I gain hardness here. They are long endurance training sessions. Three weeks ago I also participated once and it is actually going a lot better. The goal was to ride well with this and do better than last time. That worked out well.”

‘Horn is not what I do it for’

Although the recovery from the operation is disrupting his preparation for the OKT, the intervention was necessary, Kramer emphasizes. “I couldn’t have done this last year. But we didn’t do the surgery to run a good marathon here on Saturday evening. Nothing against Hoorn, but that’s not what I’m doing it for.”

When asked whether Kramer will be able to qualify for the Games in six weeks, he has to remain unanswered for a while. After an “ehhm”, follows: “I hope so.”

“I am now going to work very positively towards the OKT. If I didn’t have that, I shouldn’t have started it. But it is with a realistic picture.”

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