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Lee Sang-hwa. © Yonhap News

Olympic Games News

Korean speed skating star Lee Sang-hwa announces retirement

Date : 17 May 2019

Seoul, Korea, May 17, 2019: Two-time Winter Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa put an end to her golden career on Thursday, May 16, saying she wanted to be remembered as a "living legend" in speed skating.

"Since the PyeongChang Winter Games I've tried to continue my athletic career but I failed to keep myself in top condition due to a chronic knee injury,"

Lee said in a press conference in Seoul.

"I have decided to retire at a time when fans remember my best times."

Lee, 30, will go down as one of Korea's greatest winter sports athletes ever and also among the very best speed skaters of her generation, reports Yonhap News.

Lee won the gold medal in the women's 500 meters at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and repeated that feat four years later in Sochi, Russia.

In between these two Olympics, Lee broke four world records. Her mark of 36.36 seconds, set on Nov. 16, 2013, in Salt Lake City, Utah, remains the gold standard in the women's 500m.

After battling nagging left knee and right calf injuries, Lee bounced back in time to take the silver medal behind Japan's Nao Kodaira at PyeongChang 2018, a gutsy performance that silenced naysayers but also signaled the approaching end.

When asked how she wanted to be remembered, Lee answered that she wanted to remain a "living legend."

"I received the same questions after the PyeongChang Olympics and I said I wanted to be a living legend," she said. "My answer hasn't changed. I want to be remembered as an athlete that makes the impossible possible and always does her best."

She has no specific plans for her retirement but wants to attend the next Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022 as a coach or commentator.

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