|Date||14 February 1988 — 17:00|
|Location||Olympic Oval, Calgary|
|Participants||37 from 15 countries|
|Olympic Record||38.03 / Eric Heiden USA / 15 February 1980|
There was a large field of favorites and outsiders in this event. South Korean Bae Gi-Tae had won four World Cup races, while East German Uwe-Jens Mey had taken three. American Dan Jansen had won two, but was nevertheless the top favorite. A week before the Games, he had won the World Sprint Championships at West Allis by winning three of the four distances, including both 500 ms. Also in contention were Jan Ykema, a Dutchman who had won a World Cup race in Innsbruck, and Nick Thometz, who held the world record in the event since March 1987, with 37.55.
After Ykema had lowered the Olympic Record in the first pair, Dan Jansen was due to skate in the second heat. Just hours before the race, he had learned of the death of his sister, Jane, who had long suffered of leukemia. His family insisted that he start his race, but a distracted Jansen fell in the first curve and did not finish the race. The drama for Jansen would repeat itself a few days later, when he also fell in the 1,000 m.
Next up was Sergey Fokichev, the defending champion. Despite recording the fastest opener, his 36.82 would land him just outside the medals. These were taken by the skaters in pair four, Mey and Akira Kuroiwa. Mey had been runner-up behind Jansen at West Allis, while Kuroiwa was the 1983 and 1987 World Champion. Mey clearly beat his Japanese opponent and with 36.45, he lowered the world record by a tenth of a second. Kuroiwa was three tenths behind, and narrowly missed Ykema’s time with 36.77. While East Germany had taken many Olympic speed skating titles already, Mey was the first man from that country to do so.
|33||16I||Hans van Helden||FRA||39.05||10.84|