By Julien Pretot and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
BEIJING (Reuters) -Hwang Dae-heon claimed South Korea’s first short track speed skating medal at the Beijing Olympics when he won the men’s 1,500 metres in a tight, clean finish on Wednesday.
Hwang, disqualified from the semi-finals of the 1,000 metres on Monday, clocked 2:09:219 to beat Canada’s Steven Dubois by 0.035 seconds: the tip of a blade.
Semen Elistratov took bronze for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 0.013 seconds further back, with all three skaters raising their fists in the air in celebration after an incident-free race – a rarity at this Games.
South Korea, short track’s dominant nation with 25 golds now to second-placed China’s 12, had not won a single medal after three events at the Capital Indoor Stadium, blaming their poor results on alleged biased refereeing https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/short-track-skoreas-kwak-questions-fairness-refereeing-after-china-gold-2022-02-07 in favour of the hosts.
“It was the cleanest race and that was our strategy as well, to race the cleanest race,” Hwang told a news conference.
“That’s why we could have this great result today.”
It was Ren Ziwei, however, who was disqualified for China in the semi-finals for an arm block as his hopes of clinching a third title at this Games took a serious blow.
Ren, who won the title in the 1,000 metres and the mixed team relay, was penalised for an arm block.
He will have another chance to achieve the treble when he takes part in the men’s 5,000 metre relay.
South Koreans Ahn Hyun-soo, who won the men’s 1,000, 1,500 and 5,000 metre relay titles in Turin and Jin Sun-yu, who claimed gold in the 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000 metre women’s relay in Turin in 2006 as well, are the only two athletes who have won three short track golds at a single Games.
‘HAPPY TO BE AMONG YOU’
Hwang never appeared in trouble in Wednesday’s final but Dubois surged strongly after the last bend as he threw his skate forward. That, however, was only enough to beat Elistratov, already a bronze medallist in Pyeongchang four years ago.
Elistratov was grateful, to say the least.
“I want to thank my competitors. Thanks to each other we grow, perfect ourselves and increase the popularity of our sport,” he said.
“I love you very much. Today it doesn’t matter who finished first, second or third. I’m happy to be among you.”
In earlier races, Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands eased into the semi-finals of the women’s 1,000 metres in Olympic record time.
She was joined by Italy’s Arianna Fontana, who has already won the mixed team relay and 500 metres title to take her record tally to 10 Olympic medals
Canadian Kim Boutin, a silver medallist on the distance in 2018, failed to qualify after crashing right after the last bend.
Italy, however, failed to make it to the 3,000 metres women’s relay final in a semi-final that also featured the Netherlands and China.
Canada and South Korea also qualified for the final.
(Editing by Ken Ferris, Andrew Cawthorne and Hugh Lawson)