Netherlands-based West Australian born athlete Josh Capponi placed seventh in the 11 strong field of the men’s 5,000 metres on the opening day of competition at the Obihiro Forest Skating Oval.
Capponi raced home in a time of 6:48.37 which was 24 seconds behind gold medallist Lee Seung-hoon of Korea.
The 22-year-old didn’t achieve his goal of setting a new personal best but he was happy with his performance given the times posted by his some of his competitors.
“The guys who finished fifth and sixth are quite a lot faster than me,” Capponi explained.
“Normally they skate 6 minutes 28 seconds and here they skated 6 minutes 40 seconds and 6 minutes 41 seconds, so normally they’re about 16 seconds faster than me but here they were only seven seconds,” he said.
Capponi was excited to go up against some of the world’s best speed skaters.
“Normally I’m in B group and most of these guys are in A group. The winner is an Olympic champion and there are three or four others who are in the top 24 in the world so the level is quite high.”
The 22-year-old was nervous to be taking on a high calibre field.
“For the start you have to stand perfectly still and I could feel my arms trembling.
“I thought I was going to be recalled back to the start line but I guess I could control it just enough so it was all good.
“Normally I’m racing in B group and that’s not televised. I knew my parents were watching and some other friends and family back home so I felt more pressure.”
Capponi has a rest day today before returning to the ice on Wednesday where he will race a 10,000 metre event for the first time.
“I’ve been really consistent in training over the last two weeks building towards this race so it will be interesting to see what I can do on Wednesday.”
Full results and live streaming of the Asian Winter Games is available on the Sapporo 17 website.