BEIJING (Reuters) -Italy’s Arianna Fontana outwitted the Netherlands’ Suzanne Schulting to claim a record-extending 10th Olympic medal in short track speed skating and retain her title in the 500 metres event at the Beijing Winter Games on Monday.
Fontana, 31, the most decorated short tracker in women’s or men’s events, now has two more medals than American Apolo Ohno and Russian Viktor Ahn.
The “Angelo Biondo” (Blonde Angel) overtook second-placed Dutch star Schulting on the final lap and screamed with joy as she crossed the line, breaking the near silence at the Capital Indoor Stadium.
“In this scream was all the rage I accumulated in the last three years,” said Fontana, who trains in Hungary after what she said was aggression towards her on the ice at home and opposition to having her husband as coach.
“They tried to find a way to hurt us and for us not to be here but we thrived through all this stuff,” she told a news conference. “It was tough for sure but it was all worth it.”
A spokesperson for the Italian Olympic Committee said there would be no comment on those assertions from the national skating federation.
Fontana now stands tied with cross-country skier Stefania Belmondo as Italy’s most decorated Olympian.
She paid tribute to her husband Anthony Lobello.
“He helped me win a medal in Pyeongchang and it was the best decision because now I’ve won another gold.”
Schulting, 24, was hoping for a clean sweep at this Games after winning all the events at last year’s COVID-hit world championships. She started strongly but was thwarted by Fontana’s last-gasp push.
“I’m super happy with silver. I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get gold but it was such a close race,” Schulting told a news conference. “We have a great podium with such great skaters. It was a great final.”
Canadian Kim Boutin, the world record holder, took the 500 metres bronze medal, matching her third place in 2018.
Boutin was back at the Olympics after a traumatic experience in 2018, when she was the target of online abuse by South Korean fans after Choi Min-jeong was disqualified for interference.
China’s Fan Kexin, the world number five in the event, was knocked out in the quarter-finals, as well as South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong, a two-time Olympic champion who is more at ease on longer distances.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Hugh Lawson)