The overwhelming pre-race favorite Sven Kramer, who had won 18 consecutive 10000 m races since 2006, was disqualified due to a missed lane change after 6600 m into the race. Kramer finished the race in a time of 12:54.50, under the impression to have won the gold medal in a new Olympic and track record, but was then told by his coach, Gerard Kemkers, that he had been disqualified. Kemkers took the blame for the gaffe, as he had directed Kramer into the inner lane, even when Kramer was attempting to take the correct outer lane.
The gold medal instead was won by Lee Seung-hoon in 12:58.55, edging the existing Olympic record by 0.37 seconds. Despite Lee's earlier silver medal at the 5000 m race, his achievement was a surprise, since, before 2010, he had never skated a 10000 m race under 14 minutes. He broke his personal and the Korean national record, set on January 10, 2010, by 22.5 seconds. Kramer's disqualification allowed Bob de Jong to earn his third Olympic medal on the 10000 m (he won silver in 1998 and gold in 2006), a feat only equalled by Knut Johannesen, who won silver, gold and bronze at the Olympics in 1956, 1960 and 1964.