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Maria Lamb goes from ER to third Olympic team

Jan 1, 2014, 6:56 PM EDT

Maria Lamb Getty Images

Maria Lamb‘s road to Sochi went through an emergency room.

Lamb, 27, overcame a throat infection that put her in the ER for five hours Monday to make her third Olympic team in her last-chance race at the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t breathe at all [Monday],” Lamb, who also had a severe migraine, said on NBCSN. “Two days ago, I was literally in the ER with an IV and oxygen. I’m like, oh my God, I have to try and make the Olympic team in two days. It’s not quite your normal or ideal setup.”

Only the winner of the 5000m would go to Sochi, and Lamb prevailed in 7 minutes, 13.31 seconds at the Utah Olympic Oval on Wednesday. She became the eighth and final member of the U.S. Olympic women’s speed skating team.

Emery Lehman, who already qualified in the 5000m, won the men’s 10,000m to wrap up competition. The U.S. had one Olympic spot in the 10,000m, too.

Lamb placed 15th in the 5000m at the 2010 Olympics and 24th in the 1500m and fifth in the team pursuit at the 2006 Olympics. She was fifth in the 3000m at trials Friday, where the top two made the Olympic team.

Lamb was in the emergency room three days later, knowing her only chance to get to Sochi would come in the longest, most exhausting event in the women’s program.

“The 5K is my best and my favorite race,” Lamb said. “People think I’m a little bit crazy.”

Lamb and Jilleanne Rookard were co-favorites in the 5000m, but Rookard scratched out of the 5000m. Rookard already made the team in the 1500m and 3000m.

That left Petra Acker as Lamb’s biggest competition. Acker, trying to make her first Olympic team, was seven seconds slower than Lamb on Wednesday.

Another contender, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, was not allowed to skate after not passing concussion tests Wednesday. She was injured Monday when she landed on her head after being struck on the sidelines by a crashing skater, according to The Associated Press.

In the men’s 10,000m, Lehman came from behind to shock pair counterpart Jonathan Kuck by .07 after 25 laps. Lehman, a Chicagoland high school student, won in 13:22.77, shaving nearly seven seconds off his personal best.

“I saw some of [Kuck's] lap times were slowing down, and mine were staying pretty consistent,” Lehman, wearing a green Chicago Blackhawks cap, said on NBCSN. “I was kind of waiting for myself to die, but it never came.”

Here’s the slated U.S. Olympic Speed Skating roster, pending skaters confirming their spots:

Tucker Fredricks — 500m
Mitchell Whitmore — 500m
Shani Davis — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Brian Hansen — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Jonathan Garcia — 1000m
Joey Mantia — 1000m, 1500m
Jonathan Kuck — 1500m, 5000m
Emery Lehman — 5000m, 10,000m
Patrick Meek — 5000m

Sugar Todd — 500m, 1000m
Heather Richardson — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Brittany Bowe — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Lauren Cholewinski — 500m
Kelly Gunther — 1000m
Jilleanne Rookard — 1500m, 3000m
Anna Ringsred — 3000m
Maria Lamb — 5000m

Short track trials preview

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