New Zealand speed skater Shane Dobbin has shelved retirement plans after finishing seventh in the 10,000m event at the Winter Olympics.
The 34-year-old, who was the Kiwi flagbearer for the opening ceremony in Sochi, had planned to hang up his skates after what was his second Olympic Games, having previously represented New Zealand in Vancouver in 2010.
"Coming into the Games I was pretty set that I was going to retire. I'm 34 now, so I'm not getting any younger," Dobbin told Fairfax Media.
"I've made some great improvements over the last eight weeks and I feel like I've got more to give, but now is not the right time to be making decisions with the emotions of the Olympics. I just want to spend some time with my family and in a few months' time I'll decide if I've still got that fight in me and whether I can go around for another four years. If I don't have that fight in me I'll call it, and be happy with what's been done."
Ranked 10th in the world coming into his preferred 10km event, Dobbin adapted better than some of the field to the slower-than-expected ice conditions at the Adler Arena.
Drafting behind tall German Moritz Geisreiter, he held his technique right through the race, recording a personal best time at sea level.
The Netherlands swept the podium with 38-year-old Jorrit Bergsma taking gold from Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong.
Bergsma's performance showed what could be achieved, Dobbin said.
"In the age of professionalism no-one really knows what the body's capable of. It's whether you've got the motivation to wake up every morning and keep pushing it and whether financially you can look after yourself for that period of time, those are the biggest factors."
Dobbin, a former world champion inline skater, hails from Palmerston North, but these days is based on the Gold Coast.
"You don't see much ice on the Gold Coast," he joked.
"In the off season it's perfect, 20 degrees every day, I couldn't ask for better training conditions. If I was to go around for another four years I probably wouldn't base myself in Salt Lake City during the season, I would probably head over to Europe early to get used to the slower European-style ice which seems to be the way the major competitions are going."
Dobbin, who also finished 14th in the 5000m event at the start of the Games, said it would probably not be until he got home and watched some of the video from the Olympics before the full enormity of the event sank in.
"The experience of the Games has been fantastic. I've probably had more enjoyment this time around than what I did in Vancouver. The staff have done a great job of including me, because I'm the only one at the coastal village. That was a little bit difficult to start with, but they've done a great job of including me in everything and I've had a great time."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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