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Sven Kramer from the Netherlands is competing in the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver in speed skating.

Since taking silver in the 5000m in Torino, Sven Kramer has emerged as the most dominant distance skater in the world. Kramer has won three-straight world allround titles, as well as three-straight world single distance titles in the 5000m, 10,000m and team pursuit. Kramer's success has catapulted him to stardom in the skating-obsessed Netherlands. Though he is still eclipsed there by the nation's soccer stars, Kramer needs only Olympic gold to become the most famous athlete at home.

During the 2009-10 World Cup season, Kramer continued to dominate the field. He won all three 5000m races (though he skipped the final race in Salt Lake City) and won the 10,000m—by more than 4 seconds. Two of his three 5000m wins were by more than 2 seconds, and the only close race came in Hamar, Norway, when Kramer competed despite battling a fever.



One of Kramer's sponsors is giving Dutch fans added incentive to cheer for him. Essent, a private power company in the Netherlands, is offering a discount on service for every gold medal Kramer wins. For each medal, the promotion will result in savings of about 50 euros per customer for the year, and Kramer could win up to three. The campaign was initially called "Svencouver," but the company was denied the rights to the name because of its play on the name of the host city, and the name was changed to "Svenergie."

Kramer is also widely known as the "ambassador of bread" at home, as the spokesman for a campaign to encourage Dutch children to eat more bread, instead of junk food. A bread-toting Kramer is featured on several posters with the slogan "Brood, Daar zit was in," which roughly means "There is a lot in bread."

Kramer will need at least one gold medal to catch up to his girlfriend, Naomi van As, who won Olympic gold in Beijing on the Dutch field hockey team. Van As scored the game-winning goal in the Netherlands' 2-0 defeat of China in the title game. Despite the couple's star power, they keep a low profile and avoid the paparazzi.

Already a celebrity, Kramer is careful to avoid the traps of fame as an athlete. Though he could do a magazine interview every day, or appear on TV frequently, Kramer has decided to put off any kind of media blitz until after Vancouver. He takes the sport seriously and says he is focused only on training, 310 days a year, for the Olympics.

Kramer often draws attention when he's in Canada for autographs and photos with fans, even though they're not speed skating fans and usually have never even heard of Sven Kramer. It's his striking resemblance to another skating star, Sidney Crosby, that has led to some confusing encounters. Asked whether he knew who Crosby was, Kramer replied, "No, but I look like him."

Speed skating runs in Kramer's family, as his father, Yep, was a two-time Olympian. The elder Kramer was ninth in the 5000m and 10th in the 10,000m at the 1980 Lake Placid Games and finished ninth in the 10,000m at the 1984 Sarajevo Games. Kramer hails from the town of Oudeschoot, which is about a mile from speed skating hub Heerenveen. Kramer also is a member of the powerhouse TVM speed skating team.


SVEN KRAMER: FACTS

How tall is Sven Kramer? How old is Sven Kramer? Where does Sven Kramer live? Who is Sven Kramer dating? Find out here.

Age: 28 years old
Birthday: April 23, 1986
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 176 lbs.
Birthplace: Oudeschoot, Netherlands
Current Residence: Heerenveen, Netherlands





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