By Julien Pretot and Krystal Hu
BEIJING (Reuters) -Charles Hamelin claimed his fourth Olympic title as he led Canada to the gold medal in short track speed skating men’s 5,000 metres relay on Wednesday.
His team mate Steven Dubois held off a late challenge by the pink-haired Kwak Yoon-gy as Canada improved from their third place at the 2018 Olympics to beat South Korea.
With six gold medals, only Russian Viktor Ahn has more Olympic titles than Hamelin.
“I just think if you put the work in, anything is possible. Finishing on top of the podium with these guys, it is living your dream,” Hamelin told reporters.
Dubois’s victory scream tore up the near silence that had descended on the Capital Indoor Stadium after China’s hopes vanished when Sun Long lost his balance with less than a third of the race remaining.
“We had such a crazy season, and we wanted to show so bad what we could do. I saw on the last two exchanges that there were some small gaps and thought, ‘This is it’,” Dubois said.
Italy took the bronze medal when they beat the Russian Olympic Committee by 0.009 seconds – at the end of an effort lasting more than six minutes.
Dubois, Hamelin, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Pascal Dion clocked six minutes 41.257 seconds.
Hamelin won his first gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games and now has six Olympic medals to his name.
A usually quiet place at this Games, the Capital Indoor Stadium burst into life as China’s Wu Dajing and his team mates took to the ice for their 45 laps.
South Korea set the early pace with China sitting in last position. The host nation were still fourth with 20 laps to go.
Wu moved them one spot up 17 laps from the finish as Canada took control at the front. Sun Long, however, lost his balance with 13 laps remaining.
“We came for gold. It was a very messy competition today. There are goals we have not achieved. I’m not entirely satisfied with my performance at the Olympics,” said Wu, who the mixed team relay gold medal in Beijing.
“I hope I can still compete in the next Olympics. I will hang in there as long as my physical condition allows me to.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond)