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Choi Min-jeong wins gold in the women’s 1,500m short track speed skating on Saturday. © Getty Images

Olympic Games News

Choi strikes back, powers to gold for Korea

Date : 18 Feb 2018

Gangnueng, Korea, February 17, 2018: This time there would be no dramatic disqualification; no need even for a photo finish. At Gangneung Ice Arena on Saturday night, Korea’s Choi Min-jeong was a clear winner of the women’s 1,500m short track speed skating title.

Four days after being involved in a photo finish for gold in the 500m final, then settling for silver before being disqualified altogether, to the dismay of the home fans packed into the stadium, the 19-year-old world record holder produced an exhilarating burst of speed on the outside to race home unchallenged.

Choi won gold in 2 minutes 24.948 seconds. China’s Li Jinyu was second in 2:25.703 and Canada’s Kim Boutin third for bronze in 2:25.834. The seven finalists entered the ice with football-style chants of “Tae-han-min-kuk” ringing around the arena, but for a while it looked like Choi and fellow Korean Kim Alang were boxed in by three racers in front of them.

But Choi had the spectators on their feet by displaying explosive and sustained acceleration to sweep around the outside and take the lead by the bell, so that the last lap was almost a victory parade. “It was the biggest dream of mine for four years,” she said. “I can’t put it into words. I am so proud of it. Physically I am so burned out but inside I am so happy, so proud of my whole country.”

Choi thanked her family for the sacrifices they have made in supporting their daughter all the way to the top of the Olympic podium. “They will be very proud but actually I feel bad for them because they have devoted so much time and money to my skating. I am very thankful.”

When asked how she felt to race and win the gold medal as the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, watching from the stands, Choi said: “Yes I know. It’s very exciting.” Korea was hoping to complete a golden double in the second final of the night, the men’s 1,000m, but both their representatives in the five-man final, Seo Yi-ra and Lim Hyo-jun, crashed out, along with Hungary’s Sandor Liu Shaolin.

Liu was penalised and Seo was moved up to the bronze medal, behind Canadian champion Samuel Girard and silver medal-winner John-Henry Krueger of the United States. Lim was fourth.

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