Winter Olympics 2018

Home shutout in skate finale

Wu Dajing is ecstatic after winning the thrilling 500m short-track speed skating final in a world record at the Gangneung Ice Arena last night. It was China's first gold of these Winter Olympics.
Wu Dajing is ecstatic after winning the thrilling 500m short-track speed skating final in a world record at the Gangneung Ice Arena last night. It was China's first gold of these Winter Olympics.

Netherlands, China and Hungary grab last three golds as hosts' short-track pain deepens

GANGNEUNG (South Korea) • To say that it has been a trying few days for South Korea's ice skaters at the Winter Olympics is probably an understatement.  

With the furore over the ostracising of speed skater Noh Seon Yeong by her team pursuit team-mates Kim Bo Reum and Park Ji Woo culminating in an online petition calling for their expulsion from the national team on Tuesday, the hosts were hopeful of some golden cheer at the three short-track speed skating finals yesterday.

However, teenage star Choi Min Jeong crashed out on an evening to forget for the packed Gangneung Ice Arena crowd as the short-track competition wrapped up.

Hungary made history with their first Games gold and Wu Dajing set a new world record in the men's 500m to clinch China's first gold medal in Pyeongchang.

The tone was set when the 19-year-old Choi's bid for a treble ended in an unfortunate wipe-out with compatriot Shim Suk Hee.

The gold medallist in the women's 1,500m and 3,000m relay clipped the blades of Shim in the final lap of the 1,000m, sending both women hurtling into the side padding.

That left the Netherlands' Suzanne Schulting to claim the gold ahead of Canadian Kim Boutin and Italy's Arianna Fontana.

Then in the men's 500m, South Koreans Hwang Dae Heon and Lim Hyo Jun had to settle for second and third in the shadow of Wu.

The silver medallist from Sochi 2014 clocked the fastest-ever time in his quarter-final, and lowered that to 39.584sec in the final.

"Today, I didn't give my competitors a chance and I kept my speed from the start," said Wu, 23. "More importantly, I believed in myself. I'm very emotional and happy to have won China's first gold here."

He is the first Chinese man to win an Olympic short-track gold medal.

In the men's 5,000m relay, South Korea were knocked out of contention halfway through the race after a fall left them three-quarters of a lap adrift.

There was no stopping Hungary, who held off China with Canada taking bronze to claim not only their first Winter Games gold, but their first medal since 1980.

Hungary, comprising Csaba Burjan, Victor Knoch, Liu Shaoang and his older brother, Sandor Liu Shaolin, did it in style, setting a new Olympic record of 6min 34.510sec.

The team celebrated wildly at the end, with Shaolin hugging and kissing his girlfriend, British speed skater Elise Christie, before the quartet skated around the rink holding their country's flag.

"It's such a big honour," Shaolin said. "The journey was really long to get here. The team qualified for the Olympics in eighth position, last, and we made it count.

"I couldn't say anything (after crossing the line). I couldn't think anything. I was just screaming."

Despite the disappointment, South Korea still had a respectable haul from the short track, with Lim Hyo Jun winning the men's 1,500m to go with Choi's two titles.

Elsewhere, Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky was stripped of his bronze medal after admitting to doping, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2018, with the headline 'Home shutout in skate finale'. Print Edition | Subscribe