The Korean team celebrates victory in the 3,000m short track relay. © Yonhap NewsOlympic Games News
Date : 21 Feb 2018
Gangneung, Korea, February 20, 2018: Host nation Korea retained their Olympic crown in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000m relay in dramatic circumstances at Gangneung Ice Arena on Tuesday. After Korea and China had finished 1-2, with Canada and Italy both crashing out during the final, there was a lengthy delay as the referees reviewed the replays.
Although the Koreans had already started to celebrate, they must have known there was a chance of being disqualified after one of the team, Kim A-lang, slipped on a change-over, causing the incident that brought down first Canada and then Italy. As for the Chinese, who had led the race for long stretches, they had their flag ready to celebrate with a lap of honour, believing they had won the silver medal in a photo finish.
But then the scoreboard declared that both China and Canada had been penalised, leaving Korea in gold medal position and Italy promoted to the silver medal. The bronze medal was given to the Netherlands, who hadn’t even competed in the final but had set a new world record in winning the B final just before the main event of the night.
Korea’s winning time was 4 minutes, 07.361 seconds, followed by Italy at 4:15.901. The five-strong Korean squad climbed on the top of the podium at the venue ceremony - Choi Min-jeong, Kim A-lang, Shim Suk-hee, Kim Ye-jin and Lee Yu-bin – to receive the acclaim of the spectators. It was Korea’s sixth gold medal in the women’s relay in Winter Olympics history.
Choi, who now has two gold medals from these Winter Olympics, said: “We have been training so hard to continue our record in the relay because the Games are being held in Korea. We have put in a lot of effort to make this happen. Athletes before us made notable performances, and we tried to maintain the tradition. “During our training we have considered many situations that we may find ourselves in during the race and our strategy has been very flexible to cope with all outcomes.”
In the B final, the Netherlands set a new world record of 4:03.471, beating the 4:04.222 set by Korea at Salt Lake City in 2016 – but they never expected to end up with the bronze medal.
The action got underway on Tuesday evening with eight heats of the ladies’ 1,000m, nine laps of the track. The top two from each heat advanced to the quarter-finals. Local hero Shim Suk-hee, who won gold, silver and bronze medals at Sochi 2014, has had a disappointing Winter Olympics to date with lowly finishing positions in the 500m (17th) and 1,500m (29th).
Shim, 21, is the world record-holder at 1,000m and was in the first heat. To the relief of the large crowd, Shim came home first, but there was disappointment for China’s Han Yutong when she was disqualified after finishing second.
PyeongChang 2018 1,500m champion Choi Min-jeong won the second heat and this time there was no penalty for China’s second-placed skater, Qu Chunyu, who advanced to the last 16. China’s Li Jinyu won Heat 6 after her three rivals slid out on the same corner, allowing Li to skate home unchallenged for the second half of the race.
Korea’s Kim A-lang won Heat 7, advancing all three Koreans to the quarter-finals, and Japan’s Hitomi Saito qualified in second place from Heat 8. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be held on Thursday – the last day of the short track competition.
Eight heats were held over four and a half laps, with the top two going through to the quarter-finals. China’s Wu Dajing won Heat 1 in a new Olympic record of 40.264 seconds, eclipsing the previous mark of 40.770 by Canada’s Charles Hamelin at Vancouver 2010, Korea’s Seo Yi-ra won Heat 3 and recently-crowned Olympic 1,500m champion Lim Hyo-jun was an impressive winner of Heat 4.
China’s Ren Ziwei won Heat 5 and was joined by Kazakhstan’s Nurbergen Zhumagaziyev, who advanced on a penalty against a rival, and Japan’s Ryosuke Sakazume finished second in Heat 6, in which Kazakhstan’s Abzal Azhgaliyev was advanced to the quarter-finals after being impeded.
Korea’s Hwang Dae-heon and Japan’s Keita Watanabe went through from Heat 7, as DPR Korea’s Jong Kwang Bom was penalised for impeding after enduring a torrid time, and China’s Han Tianyu qualified from the last heat. All three Koreans and Chinese went through to the quarter-finals, which will take place on Thursday - the last day of short track at PyeongChang 2018.
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